Business Rundown: Agile Methodology
Agile was born in 2001 when a group of seventeen professionals in the software industry met and discussed new business techniques at the Snowbird ski resort in Utah. They wanted to find a more productive course of action for teams who juggle tons of documentation with customers whose needs constantly evolve. They drew up and signed what is known as “The Agile Manifesto”.
The Agile Manifesto poses a concise message explaining the importance of four main themes.
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
- Source: The Agile Manifesto authors, 2001
They refused to discredit the validity of the four Waterfall practices from above, such as using processes and tools or comprehensive negotiation. Still, they claimed that the Agile practices such as customer collaboration are more productive and conducive to the mindset of their teams. Agile practices place the most merit in customer satisfaction, quick implementation of a product, and trust between the employee and the superior.
Pros and Cons
Pro: The customer receives the product faster. By waiting for a fine-tuned product to release in the first wave to your customers, companies risk their clients’ needs changing by the time the new feature becomes available. For IT, this could be a physical product or program. For Marketing, it could be an email campaign.
Con: Those who teach Agile insist that the methodology is more than a few policy changes. Unlike SCRUM practices, Agile reaches past the 9 to 5 actions and into the philosophy behind the work done. When a manager asks his or her people to drop the regular process of priority and approval, it can overwhelm a pre-existing system when making the transition.
Pro: Agile takes employee engagement to a new level. The higher the stake an employee has in the success of a company, the more likely they are to invest themselves in company culture. The level of trust required for Agile to work properly in a team means every person holds themselves accountable for the success of their department. The autonomy employees receive in an Agile context is hard to find in most work environments, and your retention rates will reflect this fact.
Con: Trust in your employees won’t always be rewarded. The flexibility that managers allow in Agile opens the possibility for lower productivity. Not every person can hold themselves accountable without the traditional model. Without culpability lording over some of your employees’ heads, procrastination and other forms of slacking off invade your team’s productivity overall.
Product Manager Cliff Giley provides a much more extensive guide to other pros and cons of Agile in his article here. Be sure to check it out for more information.
Agile in action
Agile methodology is found mostly in software development, marketing, and sales teams. Some companies such as Google, PayPal, and Acrolinx implement Agile across most of their company due to the fast-paced nature of their markets.
Customer input and collaboration directs the team’s focus going forward with new products or updates to older models. Many consider this piece of Agile one of the most important. At InfoMart, customer compliance responds to customer requests in Agile fashion. Applicants who struggled with the ordering process for our Advantage Students program provided the feedback that lead to the creation of our new, mobile-responsive program, MediScreen. By taking the time to talk to both our applicants and our clients, we find new avenues for improvement in every facet of our company.
Infrastructure is key. The implementation of Agile requires an infrastructure that can facilitate correspondence between your team and your customers, and one that manages data and analytics. However, an article from McKinsey & Company stresses that this doesn’t necessarily mean an abundance of new technology will help. In fact, some companies rely too heavily on multiple tech platforms.
Never has it been so paramount that you compile the right people for the job. The values behind Agile development within a team require a huge level of trust in your employees’ capabilities, ingenuity, and accountability. Organizing the best team should always come first, or any effort to change will only fail in the future.
This type of change jars people from their routine, therefore it requires support from senior management. New employees latch onto company culture early as a source of comfort and stability. When restructuring what’s recognizable, your team members will have questions. The more encouragement your higher ups provide during the process, the faster that comfort they felt before returns and productivity levels start to rise the way you aimed for.
Changing company culture should never be taken lightly, but neither should a missed opportunity to provide your customers a better service before anyone else. InfoMart is dedicated to high quality products and leading the charge by being the first to market with necessary changes. If there are aspects of Agile methodology that help achieve this goal, it is an obligation to adapt. InfoMart began with the purpose to provide the best service to the customers who trusted them. This goal has never changed, only the business practices that help achieve it.
Have you implemented Agile in your business? Share your story with us.
About Tammy Cohen
Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record. To learn more about Tammy, visit www.tammycohen.com.
InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit www.InfoMart-USA.com, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.