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Five ways your business can go agile

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It’s been 15 years since the manifesto for agile software development, which encourages planning, flexibility, continuous improvement and collaboration across development teams, was first released. Although it was designed for developers, adopting agile practices can increase workflow and productivity across any function.

Here are five ways you can apply agile methodologies to your culture and business.

(1) Incorporate your company vision into all your endeavours

All agile software projects begin with a vision. It informs the scope and vision of the project, defining what the product will do, and how it will lend itself to the company strategy. It is imperative that your organisation has a defined vision – one that inspires employees to deliver.

(2) Set achievable targets

Once you defined your scope and vision, the next step is to break down the project into iterations, or short periods allocated to certain deliverables. Iterations ensure tasks are completed on time or at least allow employees to flag if a task is behind schedule. At Okta, we divide iterations into two subsets, 1) tasks to complete this month and 2) tasks to complete within the next two months, allowing for re-evaluation as projects develop.

Tasks can be rolled forward to the next iteration if need be – the key here is to ensure your team stays on top of tasks and deadlines. Setting tasks just enough in advance means your team doesn’t waste time working on long-term priorities that will inevitably need to be re-visited. Iterations stress the most invaluable tasks are completed in chronological order.

(3) Be able to adapt

The nature of business is fluid. We all know plans can change, especially with ever-changing dependencies. The manifesto encourages developers to prepare for inevitable adjustments, and encourages regular adaptation to changing circumstances. It will be easy to adapt if the vision is clear, and employees are aware of the iterations they are responsible for.

(4) Face value

The success of agile development practices depends on cross-collaboration between customers, developers, line managers and anyone you interact with on a regular basis – and the most effective way to communicate is in-person. Face-to-face meetings hold team members accountable, and empower them to successfully execute.

(5) Prioritise your customers

Agile processes put the customer first. The manifesto even reads, “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation,” and it’s a philosophy we embrace at Okta. We understand that if our customers are successful, so are we. That’s why we work with the companies that use our platform to help them fulfil their missions so they willingly come back to us. That’s what the agile methodology advocates for with the early and continuous delivery of useful software.

With every organisation vying to be as productive as possible, the manifesto is not only beneficial for building software – but to all business functions and industries. Business will only benefit from defining a scope with clear, achievable targets, collaborating as much as possible and putting their customers first. By adopting these agile principles, your organisation will not only see improved productivity; it will also ensure employee engagement and customer success.

Todd McKinnon is CEO and co-founder of Okta.

Image: Shutterstock

The term “Agile” is creeping into everyday business language, but what does it mean? And why should it matter to you?

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