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Agile Everything: Why Even Non-Tech Small Businesses Are Adopting Agile Methodology

Small businesses are improving customer experience, employee engagement, and company growth with the Agile method. Read more to see how!

Of course, every business wants to stay agile in a general sense. But an Agile approach to your operations represents a more specific commitment. Applying these techniques can let you unlock your potential and accelerate your expansion.

Agile started as a method for quickly delivering software products. Now, the strategy has expanded to include other types of products and other aspects of business. At the same time, small businesses have adopted the Agile mindset to compete with more established competition and to maximize their growth prospects.

Is the Agile approach the right path for you? Learn the basic tenets of this mindset and see how it can fit into your small business.

What is Agile methodology?

Agile describes a process for developing a project that breaks large tasks into smaller parts and applies a cycle of feedback and discussion to optimize each component. The goal is to pursue a process called “iterative development.” This involves making incremental steps toward a longer-term goal.

The strategy originated in software development. Agile’s history traces back to the 1950s, but it began to take shape as a movement in the 1990s. The process became more explicit starting with a development event in 2001, which launched an evolution that continues today.

These days, Agile has significant applications beyond the narrow software sector. Any business can benefit from using at least some of the techniques included in the Agile method. The list of industries now applying these techniques includes a wide swath of corporate cultures, in areas as diverse as marketing, construction and finance.

The benefits of Agile can become especially acute for small businesses. An Agile process allows a company to deliver products faster and improve them over time, building a strong relationship with clients and allowing for long-term brand development.

An Agile process allows a company to deliver products faster and improve them over time, building a strong relationship with clients and allowing for long-term brand development.

What are the pros and cons of the Agile technique?

The Agile system can provide many benefits. However, installing the techniques comes with challenges as well. Before you determine whether it’s right for your business, here are some pros and cons to consider.

Pros:

  • Better end product: By involving multiple perspectives and prioritizing customer experience, your final offerings will become more competitive.
  • Keep team members engaged: Projects developed with an Agile framework are meant to receive a broad level of participation. As a result, you’ll see better integration within your organization and more engagement with your employees.
  • Identify problems sooner: Because of the structure of the Agile mindset, it’s difficult for major problems to fester. They are usually quickly identified and fixed.
  • Increased flexibility: Markets change quickly. An Agile system lets you stay responsive to evolving conditions.

Cons:

  • Requires broader resource investment: Because the Agile system involves multiple parts of your organization throughout the process, the total resource commitment can increase.
  • Need to juggle contributors’ opinions: The Agile system thrives on feedback. However, not all of it can be integrated easily.
  • Takes oversight to remain focused: Without steady leadership, an Agile project can wander off track. It takes finesse to maximize the innovation without letting the process meander.

How to adopt the Agile mindset in your business

Ready to implement some Agile techniques in your small business? There are steps you can take to prepare a strong foundation. Here are some tips to help you adopt the Agile mindset:

Hire the right people

Not every employee can thrive in an Agile environment. It takes the right staff members and buy-in from your team. Seek out the right people to bring the techniques to life.

At the same time, you might need expert direction to install the program. As you look to put an Agile process in place, look for experienced leaders. Find individuals who have managed these systems before, so they can implement them properly for your company.

Work on communication

Agile procedures require communication. The process requires collaboration between multiple teams within your organization. At the same time, the techniques seek to benefit from customer feedback as well. A hearty communication program — both internally and externally — will give you the right level of feedback you need to make the Agile process succeed.

Focus on value-added improvements

At its core, the Agile system looks to make ongoing improvements, using collaboration and feedback to drive innovation. Each step along the way should add value. This can take the form of upgrades to your customer-facing offerings — new features or better service. Or you can see this value through improvements of your internal processes, arrived at by leveraging variations of the Agile system.

Make flexibility a core value

Because it focuses on involving multiple parties in a project’s progression, Agile gets much of its power from a willingness to incorporate great ideas whenever they occur. This seems ideal in theory, but it’s sometimes hard to change directions late in a development cycle.

To implement Agile successfully, you need to orient your culture around its core aspiration. First among these: flexibility. The ability to adapt and to accept disruptive ideas will open the door for opportunities that you might miss otherwise.

To implement Agile successfully, you need to orient your culture around its core aspiration. First among these: flexibility.

Considering the Agile mindset

The Agile mindset can change the way you do business. Done right, you can accelerate your development and build stronger relationships with both your customers and your employees.

However, like all things, there are pros and cons to consider. The Agile system requires the right culture and a commitment to the process. Use the information provided here to decide if Agile is right for your small business.

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