What is Agile Work Management®?
Agile project management has seen a significant increase in adoption over the last few years. Originally gaining popularity among software engineers in the early 2000s, Agile is starting to find its way into other industries. As Agile moves beyond the domain of software and IT companies, new approaches are needed to ensure a successful outcome.
The Rise of the Agile Organization
It’s important to recognize that “software Agile” isn’t the same as “Agile for everyone else.” The primary reason is that early Agile teams were comprised of software engineers, mostly at product companies. They were usually building one thing, for one client — themselves.
More recent implementations of Agile are among professional services and other non-software/IT businesses. They are more likely to adopt Agile principles company-wide, as opposed to having a collection of siloed Agile teams within a larger non-Agile company. These innovative companies require a different approach to Agile than their software/IT team counterparts.
The Productivity Stack
Agile purists often talk about how Agile espouses “people and interactions over process and tools.” But it’s important to recognize that Agile teams absolutely (should) have a process, and tools do matter. To be fair, these same purists aren’t saying that process and tools have no place in Agile, just that they are not emphasized in the same way as they are within a traditional “waterfall” team.
But, when an entire organization seeks to become Agile, new emphasis should be placed on having the right tools. And, (contrary to what some people advocate) it’s important that everyone uses the same tools. Unfortunately, many organizations have found themselves using so many different tools that it often hinders growth, prevents the ability to optimize operations, and reduces the ability to gain useful company-wide insights.
Over the last several years there has been an explosion of web-based productivity applications. Organizations have quickly found themselves with such a large number of different applications that it has become problematic. Relying on too many applications presents the following challenges:
- It’s difficult to find information
- Data is disconnected and often redundant
- Different teams have different “sources of truth”
- No whole company visibility
Number 3 is especially important. One of the core benefits of becoming Agile is increased flexibility and adaptability. To achieve this, everyone should have access to the same real-time information, which can be used to make timely, and informed decisions. Having a fragmented collection of siloed web applications makes this very difficult. The Agile organization of the future will be unified on one common platform, giving everyone access to the same real-time information. This is precisely why we built Ravetree.
It’s amazing what becomes possible when everyone is organized and connected in one place. Agile work management® has the potential to unify organizations in the same way that social networks unify people. In fact, some social networks have attempted to apply their model in a business setting. But this approach hasn’t worked, largely because social networks are disconnected from important business data located in the company CRM, project management tools, and other sources.
Who Benefits the Most?
Almost any type of organization, including non-profits, education, and government, can benefit from taking an Agile approach. But the professional services industry is likely to see the most benefit from Agile. Let’s see why.
Professional service businesses, such as engineering firms, marketing agencies, and law firms often juggle numerous projects at the same time. It’s critical for these businesses to have easy access to all of their information. Otherwise, valuable time is wasted searching for information — time that could be used to take on more clients and increase profits.
It’s also important to eliminate ambiguity about where information is stored, and how it should be organized.
It’s not uncommon for a typical professional service business to have separate applications for: task management, time tracking, resource planning, digital asset management, expense tracking, and invoicing. Agile or not, each one of these tools is critical for how they operate. An efficient work management solution, such as Ravetree, combines all of this functionality in one place and increases the likelihood of success.
Maybe it’s too soon for a retrospective, but the successes seen so far by organizations who have “gone Agile” is encouraging to those who want to see the Agile community grow. Everything from event planning to venture capital firms have successfully embraced Agile and there appears to be increased momentum as Agile continues to permeate through the business world. There’s no doubt that Agile leads to more successful outcomes when compared to traditional approaches, and it will be exciting to see how Agile evolves in the years to come.