Will your employees take to it? Will the company's profit margins benefit?

Can Agile make your workplace more effective?

Agile seems to be a term on every office's lips at the moment - but a swirl of uncertainty surrounds it. Can it make your workplace more effective? Will your employees take to it? Will the company's profit margins benefit? And what actually is Agile?

For those who are hoping for a little clarification on that last point - Agile is, put simply, a framework for working. It has its roots in software development, but has since been applied to all kinds of working environments with success. It champions people over processes, responding to change over sticking to fixed plans, collaboration with clients over contract to negotiation, and encourages transparency between your workforce and your client base.

Today, we are going to focus on how adopting an Agile approach can make your workplace more effective.

Prevent yourself from wasting time on ineffective products

One of the key features of Agile is that projects or products are not simply presented to the client upon completion. Instead, pieces of the project are delivered to the client at regular intervals. In the world of software development, for example, this might mean the release of a new feature every two weeks - or, when working on major features, the release of a new iteration of this every two weeks.

No matter what your product, however, this incremental delivery system has a number of advantages - not least of which is the fact that it allows you to get feedback from your customer or their users (or both!). This gives you early warnings if a product may need either to be scrapped or reworked completely if it just isn't having the right initial impact - something that can be invaluable in preventing the waste of time and other resources.

Create a more exciting product

Hopefully, more often than not, the feedback you receive will simply give you ideas for improving the product or project, as opposed to indicating the need to scrap it altogether!

Regular feedback is invaluable for creating something that truly meets - and preferably exceeds - your client's expectations. This is because you will be constantly assessing if what you're doing actually is in line with those expectations - and if it isn't, where the discrepancy lies.

In terms of creating a more exciting product, greater collaboration between departments leads to a larger pool of skills being drawn on and, as a result, a better product. This is thanks to one of the key features of Agile - removing silos between departments.

Improve working relations and remove departmental barriers

This removal of silos naturally fosters better working relations between departments. After all, not only will everyone be working towards the same goal, but they will be very aware they are doing so - and this awareness is key. Why? Think back for a moment to recent incidents of conflict between departments - had everyone lost sight of their common goal? More often than not, the answer will be yes.

Get more done in less time

Thanks to this deconstruction of barriers between departments, you should also find your teams get more done in less time. That's because instead of passing tasks down a line and waiting for responses, or for other departments to have the time to give the project their attention, everyone is working towards the same goals at the same time.

Respond to client needs faster

Working in an Agile way allows you to break projects down into smaller stages. Each stage is planned at the time you actually start working on it, which gives you the freedom to react to new information and priorities. For your clients, this means you will be more responsive to their changing needs. For your teams, this gives them the flexibility not only to cater for changes to client priorities, but also to plan effectively around any other factor that may affect how work is planned - such as the absence of a team member.

Manage customer expectations effectively

Another important feature of Agile is transparency. As your teams will regularly deliver new parts of the project to your client for feedback and discussion, they will be able to see exactly how things are progressing. This contrasts more traditional approaches, where products are only delivered in their final version, leaving clients in the dark as to what stage said product is at at any one time.

This greater transparency usually creates a better and, ultimately, longer and more fruitful working relationship.

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