Agile for Everybody: All Industries

Introduction

Ever since its inception in 2001, the Agile Manifesto and the Agile project management methodology was thought of first and foremost, as a tool used by software companies to encourage/manage productivity. But what about non-IT, non-software companies? Shouldn’t they be able to gain efficiency and productivity using the best practices available? Of course, they should. There are several examples of such practices being utilized across multiple industries to great effect. One of the most famous of these practices is the Lean methodology of start-ups and software development that was taken from the manufacturing industry. In the same vein, the Agile methodology can do wonders for non-software companies too – after all, there are several types of projects that can be managed using Agile tools. Armed with this knowledge, Software Advice conducted a study to understand to what extent Agile tools have been adopted in the non-IT sector and how do the decision makers in the non-IT sector perceive Agile tools.

To be Agile (or to have agility) in business is to be able to react to the unexpected, to be able to adapt to a changing market environment, and to be able to answer to consumer needs quickly. This applies to software development as much as it applies to other aspects of the business. The Agile software development processes used today addresses not only the needs of development and developers, but we can also draw on them to address other business requirements. Going back to Software Advice’s study, here are some of their interesting findings:

Surprising, yet true – 48% of project managers use Agile software for non-IT related projects. The most helpful features in an Agile tool for non-IT projects were rated to be:

  • Workflow tracking (90% respondents).
  • Story mapping and analytics are close seconds at 89%.
  • Scrum boards and activity streams are the third with 85% of people’s votes.
  • The biggest challenge for about half of the users is to train others about using Agile tools.

Here is a great video about Agile:

Nearly half of the respondents already used Agile tools for non-IT projects

This is really surprising because deep down we had assumed that Agile is a property of software domain. But the news that there are several companies who are already getting the benefits of Agile methodology in their own fields is attractive. How do they do it? What features did they use?

Adoption rate of Agile by industry:

  • 52% for Software/IT
  • 11% for Marketing/Advertising
  • 5% for Construction
  • 5% for Architecture
  • 5% for Product Development
  • 4% for Finance
  • 2% for Education
  • 1% for Industrial/Manufacturing
  • 13% for other

Before Agile

  • In software development, before Agile there were a number of other development strategies such as Waterfall which is a sequential process of development which stipulates that one phase of development must be completed before the next is begun.
  • Agile processes address this lack of flexibility by developing in short bursts/cycles, letting developers adapt to changing needs. Using Agile, products are released early and often, allowing developers to add new features or change existing ones more frequently. This flexibility is something that other aspects of the business could greatly benefit from.

The Agile Business

  • Applied to the organization, Agile principles can bring unprecedented flexibility to the way a company operates. Agile encourages collaboratively autonomous teams to find unique ways to satisfy customer needs, while an iterative approach helps them do this as fast as possible.
  • Implementing Agile is difficult enough in software development, where there are well-documented use cases to ease your transition. Whereas when applying Agile to other business disciplines, best practices are not as easily available.

Agile: Not just for software development

  • Like all successful businesses, Aleph Technologies is helping its experts evolve and mature by learning to use new and different tools. Our hammers are still as useful as ever, but newer, more progressive tools and a newer, more progressive way of thinking are also valuable.
  • Our expert thought leaders advise customers on the best tools for a particular challenge, whether it’s a waterfall, agile, or a hybrid, and gauge the customer’s ability to use the tools we recommend. Agile is heavily dependent on engaged customers who contribute to the process, so we promote agile only when it’s right for the customer.
  • It is possible, however, to apply some agile attributes to the waterfall, resulting in a happy medium that brings some parallelism and time-to-value phases to the project.

Conclusion

These examples are good and represent a particular range of applications, but they still only show a very small subset of all the organizations out there in the world. If you are looking for an example of agile in your domain there might not be one yet unless you’re in software. This means that if you want to apply agile, you will need to think more carefully and be prepared for more risks. But it also means that you could advance your entire field in terms of project management . Adopting agile could even provide an advantage for your organization if your competitors aren’t using it.

Remember the economists’ motto: Profit is the return for risk. No risk, no profit.

Barghavi

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