Adopting Agile in an Organization

Insight Main Image

Over the past few years, agile methodologies have been adopted by organizations big and small in order to streamline the ways in which they develop and test their software. In fact, adopting agile in an organization has become so popular we were pleasantly surprised to discover in our 2018 annual testing report, “How The World Tests”, that 52 percent of the people who took part in the survey are currently using agile or agile-like methodologies.

Adopting agile in an organization can be challenging, however, because it forces organizational structures to take a new approach to processes, tools and departmental communication. Without the right infrastructure in place, organizations that are used to legacy approaches could require more time and effort to get their agile testing practices up to speed.

What Is Agile?

Agile, which is considered by many to be the gold standard when it comes to testing methodologies, is rooted in adaptive planning, early delivery and continuous improvement. The premise behind agile methodologies is that it gives organizations the ability to respond quickly and easily to change in order to bring new products to market and keep up with the competition.

Unlike standard methodologies, agile moves organizations away from a documentation-heavy process to a more lightweight story card approach. There are different agile frameworks that can be used, and it’s up to each organization to figure out which one works best for their employees and their goals.

The Benefits of Adopting Agile In An Organization

If you’re on the fence about adopting agile in your organization, consider the benefits of ultimately making the shift:

  • Greater Team Engagement. When you adopt agile as an organization, you provide more opportunity for collaboration among teams. Everyone has a better understanding of the other’s goals and when issues arise, and teams can work together to problem solve.
  • More Productivity. Agile methodologies enable projects to be completed in shorter sprints, allowing them to be more manageable, rolled out quickly and changed easily at any point in the process.
  • Allows For Flexibility and Change. Testing is continuous with agile, allowing for constant updates and tweaks. Project teams can process customer feedback and make necessary updates to improve a product.
  • Improves Quality. When you use agile methodologies, the overall quality of projects improve because you have the ability to identify and solve problems quickly and efficiently.

We recently spoke with Zephyr client, AJ, who works in the Administrative Service industry, about why his team decided to make the jump to agile. 

“We wanted more communication across the organization when completing projects and efforts,” said AJ. “Previously we had siloed teams completing their own efforts and only involving other groups when needed or when they are needed to complete a task. In many cases, assumptions were being made about others work.  This created confusion at times and caused projects to come to a halt because of these assumptions. In order to circumvent this, we are now including all parties in the planning of the projects and then planning tasks based on the combined discovery sessions. By employing agile methods all parties are included throughout the development of the project which is more efficient and helpful.”

Additionally, another Zephyr client, Taras, in the Software Industry, found that speed to market was most important when it came to switching over to agile for his organization.

“We wanted to be able to make changes really quickly and deploy to production and receive feedback straight away,” Taras told us. “Our business needed to grow and in order to do that we needed to adapt quickly to the market. We couldn’t achieve that with any models aside from agile methodologies.”

Challenges Of Agile Change Management Process & How To Work Through It

Our report on “How The World Tests” revealed that the biggest challenge facing organizations when it comes to adopting agile testing is actually cultural. Agile is a more collaborative, faster paced, and more dynamic process than non-agile methodologies, so organizations who do things “the old way” can have trouble adjusting to a new way of working.

Taras has found his organization’s greatest challenge to be the shifting the mindset of all the people involved. To overcome this, all of Taras’ team members attended standard Scrum training.

“Newbies had mentors assigned who explained all the details and answered questions,” said Taras. “There were training plans developed for everyone, complete with self-learning courses and self-evaluations. We also were practicing in estimation and writing user stories.  The most interesting was when the host was simulating different scenarios for us.”

Taras recalls two different role play examples that were presented to the team during training: one in which a team member gets sick and is out for 2 days and they had to decide what to do as a team in order to deliver successful sprint, and one in which a story was underestimated and 4 additional days were required to finish it and the team had to figure out how to proceed and how to estimate requirements that are unclear.

For AJ, they found success in overcoming challenges by starting small and building a network of support.

“We first educated the teams on Agile and Scrum methodologies with lunch and learn sessions, and other meetings,” he says. “Then we started employing scrum with the smaller teams to prove success. There was some resistance but after explaining the value of the change, it was an easier sell. It was also very helpful to have the support of individuals at an executive level help push for the change.”

Taras mirrors that sentiment, saying that a strong leader and “knowledge keeper who drives the change” is the key to successfully adopting agile in an organization. 

How JIRA Can Help Your Agile Adoption Process

For AJ, JIRA was a key part in moving to Agile, in part because of the access to better metrics.

“We did have to modify how we use it for some teams, because they were using Kanban boards and simply moving tasks through a simple workflow, which worked for them,” says AJ. “However, we had to switch them over to scrum boards with story point estimations and timeboxes in order to keep better metrics for forecasting work and metrics on the work being completed.” 

Taras’ team turned to JIRA to gain more feedback. “JIRA was one of the main reasons we were interested in adopting agile for our organization,” he says. “It’s the best tool for agile projects. We can get feedback right away and move to continuous delivery.”

What A Successful Agile Adoption Looks Like

Depending on what an organization’s goals are, success will be defined differently based on those needs. 

At AJ’s organization, streamlined communication and greater transparency were top priorities of shifting to agile methodologies.

“We are more communicative now,” says AJ. “Decisions on infrastructure and thFe best tech use are decided by all parties involved and not just pushed from one group to the next. We are able to solve complex issues more efficiently when we are all working as one team and not passing deliverables in a Waterfall format. And we’ve increased transparency regarding the workload and the work involved in completing certain tasks.” 

For Taras, speed to market was an organizational achievement of adopting agile testing methods. “There’s definitely less stress,” he says. “And we get quicker feedback.”

Choosing The Right Tools For Agile Adoption

Adopting agile in an organization is only the first step in achieving testing automation success. You also need to choose the right tools that provide you with the best testing solutions during the process. Zephyr provides the best testing solutions for agile methodologies, empowering your team to continuously strive towards efficiency, speed and excellence.