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Understanding how an Agile workflow process functions is super important if you want to make it anywhere in the tech world since it’s pretty much the standard method of operation.
If you don’t understand it, fear not. I’m here to help you.
Consider this your crash course. And in this course, we will cover what an Agile workflow process is, how it compares to a traditional workflow, its benefits, and its lifecycle.
Basically everything you could possibly need to help you get started.
The Agile workflow process is relatively new to the world of business. Created in 2000, it swooped in and replaced the Waterfall model to become the standard operating system of software development.
You may have guessed it already, but Agile workflow processes are designed to help teams work with – wait for it – agility. 🤯
But what does that mean, exactly?
In simple terms, it means that teams have the ability to respond quickly and decisively to any problem or piece of feedback that pops up in the workflow. The steps of development aren’t rigid, so they can move back and forth between steps without throwing off the workflow.
So let’s compare the Agile workflow process to the traditional one.
Before Agile came along, the traditional, most widely used workflow process was Waterfall.
Think for a moment about waterfalls. The kind that flow from one pool to the next in sequence. That’s where the idea for the Waterfall methodology comes from. Workflows moving from one stage to the next. There is no hopping from one pool to another. There is no skipping pools. Each pool must be visited before moving forward.
Waterfall’s linear structure works great for smaller projects, or projects with deliverables that are easily defined but its biggest problem is that it’s rigid. There’s little to no room for flexibility and that can lead to poorly optimized workflow processes, especially in industries like tech where things are constantly changing.
So that’s where Agile comes in. An Agile workflow process offers the flexibility that Waterfall simply can’t.
One of the cornerstones of the Agile methodology is feedback. Customers and team members alike provide feedback at every stage of the workflow process.
Additionally, no one has to wait for one phase to end in order to start another. Teams can work cross-functionally on different aspects of the workflow without disruption. And most importantly, they can move back and forth between different stages to revisit areas they want to improve or change.
However, it’s good to bear in mind that an Agile workflow process isn’t always the best option for a project or process with a strict deadline. That is a case where Waterfall might be the better option, but it all depends on the size and scope of the project.
So what kind of benefits does this increased agility bring to an organization? Let’s break it down.
Because the Agile workflow process doesn’t follow a rigid structure, teams need some kind of way to track their progress.
Some types of Agile workflow processes offer visualization boards where team members, managers, and even customers can see who is working on what and at what stage the workflow is currently in. This gets everyone on the same page, which makes collaborating become easier.
As we discussed, customer feedback is a major part of the Agile workflow process. In fact, customers are involved in every stage of the process from the very beginning.
This means that anything developed using the Agile methodology is considering the needs of the customer from the very beginning. Teams have a better understanding of what the customer wants, how easily the customer can use the products, everything.
So by the time the product hits the market, it’s the most customer-friendly it can be.
With an Agile workflow process, you’re not locked into place waiting for someone to finish their work so you can start yours. You’re also not locked into a predetermined plan for the process.
You have the freedom to work simultaneously on different parts of the process and change the overall plan whenever deemed necessary. And at the speed with which tech is constantly changing, that level of adaptability is essential for a business’s survival.
Everything mentioned above leads to this last benefit. With more collaboration, consistent customer feedback, and better adaptability, your team will be able to get your product/service/updates/whatever to market so much faster.
By having the ability to break a large workflow process down into smaller sprints that teams can work on simultaneously, you cut out a lot of downtime and increase efficiency by a lot.
Alright, let’s take a look at what the Agile process lifecycle actually looks like.
When putting together an Agile workflow process, the first step is to make a plan. Although the plan isn’t as definite as what would be needed for the Waterfall method, it still has to give some kind of direction.
Ideation in an Agile workflow process needs to define the scope of the workflow, while also giving teams time to create a product backlog. It’s also vital to outline the project sprints during this stage.
Once you get the workflow verified and approved, the next step is to assemble all the resources necessary to get it done.
The biggest thing is to organize cross-functional teams. Work with them to set goals and create a timeline before assigning tasks. This is also the time to assess the resources your teams need, which could include:
Now that you’ve got all your ducks in a row, you can let them swim. This is the stage where everyone starts working on what they’ve been assigned.
One of the most important parts of this stage is documentation. Your teams should be documenting everything they work on by using a tool like business process management software so it’s all kept in the same place.
This is arguably the most crucial part of the Agile workflow process lifecycle.
Before you release anything to market, you need to test it. And then test it again. And then test it one more time for luck. This is where your customer and team feedback is most useful because it will be able to pick up on any problems with the product early. Never skip testing or I’ll come find you and make you do it.
You did it! Let it fly! Feel the rain on your skin! No one else can feel it for you!
Oh no, is my inner millennial showing?
After you’ve completed a few successful tests, you’re ready to release your product. How exciting! But it’s important to understand that releasing the product is not where the lifecycle ends.
This stage is all about training customers and other end users and providing them with ongoing support.
Remember, with Agile, you are never done receiving feedback. It’s inevitable that your product will get bugs or need updates down the line, so keep your ear to the ground and always make sure you address customer needs.
If the release of your new product makes an old one redundant, you can retire it. When a product is retired, it’s the official end of the lifecycle.
Agile workflow processes are insanely useful in the development of new tech products. If you’re interested in trying out a business process management tool to help you get started with Agile, you can book a demo with Process Street and we’ll show you how our product will help.