Best Practices for Working in an Agile Culture

by | Leaders Lunch, Software Development

It can be difficult to get business leaders involved in the agile processes. While development teams have been doing it for a while, business still needs to catch up.

At our May 22 Leaders Lunch, we discussed the challenges of working in an agile culture, and how to overcome them. John Boone, President of ProFocus Technology, moderated the roundtable discussion of Portland-based software development leaders as they shared their tips, best practices, and lessons learned.

Agile was one of two topics we discussed at this Leaders Lunch. Click here to read part two — Legacy to Cloud Migration: Challenges and Advice.

Tips for Working in an Agile Culture

Pick one methodology.

Don’t try to mix agile and waterfall in the same organization. It is much easier on the organization to choose one or the other.

Choose a tool.

There are quite a few tools out there for Agile project management. Our attendees overwhelmingly recommended Atlassian, which offers popular tools like Jira and Trello.

Categorize your defects.

Defects can tell a good story and you may be able to solve many issues by refactoring your code.

Don’t let Agile teams get burned out.

  • Balance quality and time to market.
  • Make it clear people are not expected to work nights/weekends. If a developer wants to do that, don’t make it visible to others. You don’t want others to feel that they’re expected to also work late or on weekends.
  • Make sure the on-call person is rotated. If any one person is getting too many after hours calls, it needs to be addressed before you lose the person.

Tips for using Agile/Scrum in break/fix

  • Include break/fix items in your sprint — and prioritize them appropriately.
  • If the break fix is important enough, the team may need to raise a red flag and pull a break on the sprint.
  • Consider having a separate support or Kanban team to handle break/fix items.
  • Set aside a percentage of every sprint for bug fixes, e.g. 20% of every sprint.
  • Prioritize building for quality to minimize defects before they happen.
    You may need to realize you are in a Kanban model when you are dealing with these issues.

How to track Capex with Agile

Instead of having developers track their time as they go, have people estimate their time into buckets at the end of the week. This helps prevent your team from feeling micro-managed. Be careful not to put the time tracking into Jira — developers will not take it well.

Finally, remember that Agile is only a framework. It still needs a lot of work. And as was shared in our Leaders Lunch on “Going Agile”, if you’re too dogmatic in your agile implementation, you risk turning people off.

Read part two of our discussion, here: Legacy to Cloud Migration: Challenges and Advice.

If you are a Software Development leader and would like to be involved in future roundtable discussions, please send an email to [email protected] with a request to be invited to upcoming Leaders Lunches.

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About ProFocus

ProFocus is an IT staffing and consulting company. We strive to connect a select few of the right technology professionals to the right jobs.

We get to know our clients and candidates in detail and only carefully introduce a small number of candidates that fit the role well.