Top 7 Ingredients to Establishing an Agile Development Practice

More and more teams and companies are considering agile processes, SCRUM, Extreme, or hybrids to either pilot new initiatives or to establish the practice. Unfortunately, adopting agile is often sponsored by the Development Team and they can easily underestimate the organizational changes and boundaries needed for success. Below are seven key ingredients to kicking off a successful agile development team and process.

1. Strong business sponsorship is needed to uphold the process and insure the team gets the support it needs.

2. Separate team with new talent - It often helps to pilot the approach on a well chosen project that is staffed appropriately. Because agile is a social process, bringing in leaders on participants that have experience working on agile projects is highly recommended.

3. Some Freedom on new technologies - Practicing agile on projects that have too many technology or legacy constraints may hinder success.

4. Establish social environment early - Co-location, daily standups, team commitments are all social and require time to mature.

5. Insure transparency through tools - Personally, I don't buy into the cards hanging on the walls. It works for the team, but provides no information to external stakeholders. Tools also help establish the backlog, measure burndown, track iteration productivity and help with documentation.

6. Bring in agile coaches, but manage them well - The agile manifesto is one page in length and while there are many books on agile and SCRUM, tailoring the process to your organizational needs requires time and experience. Agile coaches can help mature a team or process, but keep in mind that they are just that - coaches - and ultimately you have to figure out what is required in your organization.

7. Recognize non-agile dependencies - R&D, legal, infrastructure, and other dependencies may be difficult to tie directly into an agile process.

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