Agile 101

Why Agile Has Been So Important During Covid-19

April 26, 2021

When it comes to project management, you might think the latest buzzword thrown about on the Internet is Agile. But if you think that it’s just a buzzword, you are mistaken.

Agile is a very effective and efficient way of managing projects. Because of this, and although it was mainly seen previously as a set of practices relevant to software development, it’s now also found its way into business processes and all types of companies.

This is simply because companies have now realized that, to cope with today’s customer driven marketplace where customer needs evolve quickly and requires fast reactions, the only way to succeed is to become Agile. This, ultimately, allows companies to flourish in a world that is increasingly volatile, uncertain, and open to rapid change.

So, although Agile has become very popular recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted it further into the limelight. This is simply because the Agile mindset shows us how to work most effectively when we need to work differently. And the pandemic certainly requires that we work differently.

But why has Agile been so important during the pandemic? In this post, we’ll look at this question in more detail.


What is Agile All About?

To see why Agile is a perfect fit during the COVID-19 pandemic, we must look at what Agile is all about.

The starting place to do this is to look at the Agile manifesto. This manifesto outlines the four main values of the Agile methodology.

These are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

Agile software development is an overarching term for a set of frameworks and practices based on these four values in the manifest.

Now, let’s look closer at what these things mean in practice. One of the main things that separate Agile from other approaches to software development is that it focuses on the people doing the work and how they work together.

Therefore, products and solutions evolve because of collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams that use the appropriate practices and tools for their situation.

As a result, there’s a big focus on collaboration and self-organizing teams. But what does self-organizing mean? It simply means that teams must figure out how they’re going to approach things on their own. This allows them to adapt to change quicker.

The Agile values also emphasize a focus on results and not how teams get to the results. Also, because of its focus on collaboration and working as a team, it requires frequent and clear communication.

In simple terms, Agile is a mindset which is based on the values and principles set out in the Agile manifesto. Those values and principles guide us on how to create and respond to change and how to deal with uncertainty. It allows us to pivot quickly, get feedback, and adjust our way of working accordingly.

Now, under Agile there are a variety of Agile methodologies and frameworks. These include Kanban which is a visual approach to project management, and Scrum where a small team is led by a Scrum master.

For purposes of this article, though, we’ll stick to Agile and its core values.


Matching Agile to the Pandemic

Considering the above, the Agile mindset has a variety of benefits for any project management process. There are, however, certain benefits that are especially helpful during the pandemic which brings about an unprecedented amount of uncertainty.

These are:

At times when things are uncertain and teams are unsure of how to work, Agile provides a regular pattern and structure that allows teams to move forward with their work. Whether it’s a daily stand up with the team, or reviewing work together each week, these contribute to a more positive state of mind and bring a much-needed sense of routine. In simple terms, Agile provides a sense of rhythm and cadence that allows teams to work even though they’re facing uncertainty.

Agile is extremely suited to situations when companies need to make quick pivots or adjustments to their work or priorities. This is simply because the Agile methodology breaks larger pieces of work into smaller parts. This then allows teams to complete the bigger project in smaller parts, one at a time. This is helpful, especially during the pandemic, where everyone is uncertain of what next month or even next week will bring. Because Agile focuses on planning work in smaller parts over shorter time periods, it allows teams to complete their work, but also make the necessary adjustments as circumstances change.

One of the pillars of the Agile methodology is that team members figure out how they’re going to approach a problem on their own. This means team members can make decisions instantly rather than asking their superiors to give their feedback. This is a good fit for the pandemic because it allows team members to make the necessary decisions as they work through projects without waiting for permission. This ensures speed and responsiveness to customer needs and the changing market. In a sense, it eliminates the pressure that the pandemic has put on many systems to react quickly because Agile has this ability built in.

The key takeaway of this is that, in using the Agile methodology, we follow certain basic principles. Now, if we look at these basic principles, we’ll see that Agile is the perfect solution for the COVID-19 problem.

Agile and Covid

  • We change rapidly. Being able to change and pivot quickly is vital to survive in the pandemic. Besides, since the advent and popularity of Agile, there hasn’t been a change as big as this.
  • We inspect and adapt. Because Agile allows us to adapt to change, we’re perfectly suited to take on the challenges posed by the pandemic.
  • We collaborate and work as a team. Because Agile focuses on the people doing the work and how they work together, it’s appropriate for the pandemic which requires teams to stick together to get work done.
  • Communicate frequently and clearly. Because we do this, we can still get work done despite significant limits on the way we work.
  • We focus on the results, not hours. Because we focus on doing the work in smaller parts, we can successfully finish those small parts of the bigger project. As a result, we’re perfectly geared to work more effectively during the pandemic.


The Bottom Line

In recent years, the Agile methodology has become increasingly popular in project management. And it’s simple to see why when you consider that it allows teams to get work done effectively and efficiently, while also allowing teams to adapt to change.

These features are emphasized during the COVID-19 pandemic. And that’s why Agile has been so important during it.

If you’d like to know more about Agile and what it can do for your business contact us or visit our website for more information. The Braintrust Consulting Group is a worldwide leader in Agile transformations. Through practical, hands-on training and enterprise and team coaching, we help our clients learn, plan, and implement Agile processes, such as Scrum and Kanban.

Our goal is to teach our clients how to increase predictability of delivery, decrease time-to-market, and improve overall client satisfaction.


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