Recent business studies demonstrate that on average, software projects using agile methodologies have a higher success rate than traditional strategies. As opposed to more traditional management models, agile emphasizes the importance of interaction, flexibility and room for iteration.
In the course of digital transformation, the term agility has become increasingly important within our company and our team had to learn how to engage in agile practices.
At Cross ALM we use an agile approach not only because we value and react to feedback from our customers and clients, but we also understand that projects in modern times require us to be adaptive and transparent enough to handle shifting priorities and instant changes. We have talked to a few of our team members and summarized some of their experiences when using agile methodologies.
Here are a few lessons we have learned while using an agile approach on SAP projects.
Key lessons we have learned
1. ”Agile” Means “Iterative”
The core idea behind Agile is incremental growth and continuous improvement. We have learned that becoming agile cannot be achieved from the start but is rather a constant process of learning and development. We have struggled with agility in the past, especially in projects that involve SAP. The SAP part of a project is usually not agile. The Atlassian or non-SAP side that we are working with however is very agile. If you combine these two methods, it becomes quite clear that it can be hard to make the entire project 100% agile. What is more likely is that you will end up with something like a hybrid model where parts of the project are handled in an agile way and some other things will be dealt with using a more traditional method. So, as mentioned before, being agile is always an ongoing process. We are constantly learning and improving our methods while enabling our clients to engage more and more in the project and voice their ideas, which is something that a waterfall project would not be able to offer them.
2. Communication is key
It might be quite obvious, but one of the most important lessons we have learned from using an agile approach is that good communication within the team is crucial. Even though it might seem annoying to some team members at first, it is absolutely critical to have as many meetings as possible, especially in the initial phase of a project. Daily Scrums and weekly meetings allow the team to stay updated on current and future tasks. Those meetings also offer a good opportunity to go through the core ideas of agile methodologies together and establish some sort of agreement between the team members, clarifying expectations, values as well as individual and collective goals
3. Even though agile projects are flexible they still need a good structure
We have learned that at the beginning of every project a clear time structure needs to be established. That structure should not only deal with the time and effort needed to complete the tasks but should also take available resources into account. At the beginning of every agile project, the stakeholder will communicate all the requirements they want to have realized in a set timeframe. Next, the team will arrange sprint meetings to estimate the time and effort that will be needed to fulfill the requirements. It is very important to have these meetings as a team, as every party (development, product owner, etc.) is required in order to achieve a somewhat realistic estimation. This is something that needs to be practiced and will become easier the more agile projects you do. A clear structure of time and resources is extremely important because, in many teams, the team members also have other responsibilities beyond the project which makes it absolutely inevitable to follow a clear and coherent structure in order to ensure a fluent workflow.
4. You can’t please everyone
Just like in most other scenarios in life, it is important to realize that you can´t fulfill everyone’s wishes. Especially when working in a flexible and self-organizing environment, you will have a variety of ideas and opinions at the start of every project. The developers will have a different view from that of the product owner or the stakeholders themselves. It can be quite challenging to manage all the ideas and to find a good compromise to make everyone happy with the solution. At the end of the day, we have realized that you cannot say yes to everyone and some ideas need to be prioritized over others.
5. Agile projects ensure better collaboration and better solutions
Apart from improved productivity and better solutions, we have seen immense improvements in both customer and employee satisfaction when using agile methodologies in our projects. The best solutions that we have developed were created in close collaboration with our customers. We were able to determine their needs and instantly react to their wishes, allowing them to engage in the project and achieve the best possible outcomes for our own team as well as theirs.
6. The right tools can help to implement agile processes
The first step in an agile transformation is to establish a common understanding and mindset. In addition, the use of the right software can facilitate the implementation of agile processes. If you have only used SAP Solution Manager in your company so far, we recommend introducing Jira as an agile project management tool. In order to combine traditional and agile methods, we have developed the Cross-Connector for Jira / SAP Solution Manager, which helps companies to make their SAP projects more agile. The Jira-SAP Solution Manager integration is quick and easy to implement and the degree of control enables a higher degree of agility in the company.
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