How Agile Methodologies can Help Drive Small Businesses Forward?
Small business enterprises today need to think out of the box just to stay competitive. There are pressures from all quarters – customers, competitors, investors, market disruptors and the overall changing face of technology and market place. Implementation of agile methodologies can help to level the playing field and give small and medium enterprises the much needed impetus to punch above their weight.
Agile methodologies have the clout to change the fortunes of business enterprises that are finding it increasingly tough to compete, cut costs, or bring about a streak of innovation in the organization’s culture and line of products alike. Being agile did not come as a natural obsession for businesses but it was born out of a necessity to meet ever-evolving customer needs while reducing costs and staving off competition.
Managing a business project the conventional way meant doing it in a sequential and predetermined manner. This was the whole premise of waterfall methodology. But today’s business challenges are anything but predictable. So it was back to the drawing board for the corporate think tanks to come up with a methodology that would be a better fit for the exigencies of 21st century market place.
Small enterprises have a perennial challenge of reducing costs and time to market and at the same time increasing market share and profitability. Agility can provide the perfect solution to all these burning questions and so businesses can naturally achieve much more than what they could achieve by following conventional methods of business management.
Agility beyond the software development processes
Businesses are quick to embrace change and whatever works great in one domain is quickly replicated in other domains so that a competitive advantage can be instantly gained. Thus agile methodologies are seeing use in business processes beyond the software development arena.
In agile implementation of business processes and tasks there are rules and customer inputs and feedback at every step of the project is utmost crucial. Depending on the requirements and changing expectations, the process can be streamlined to meet the most stringent customer needs. The project planning and delivery can radically change for good with agile methodologies is something that has endeared it to business head honchos worldwide.
Scrum is the most popular way of implementing an agile framework. Every scrum has a product owner who decides and makes a checklist of most important tasks to be implemented. The scrum team incorporates a work schedule called as a sprint from the tasks already decided by the product owner and listed in the product backlog. Once a certain sprint which can stretch anywhere from two to four weeks is accomplished, the entire team meets to scrutinize the progress. The scrum master ensures the team is rightly focused on the task at hand at all times.
Once the result of the sprint is reviewed the team moves on to the next sprint in successive iterations for as long as it takes to complete the entire project. What started as a software development methodology is today truly conquering other business departments with consummate ease. Corporate decision-makers the world over are rightly seeing the advantage of running short sprints, making course corrections midway as and when needed, better streamlining the business processes to make them leaner, nimbler, more efficient and highly cost-effective ventures.
When building a product or service it is always important to first research enough about your customers, market segmentation, competition, pricing, positioning and the whole nine yards. Getting enough data to corroborate the ideas and views is crucial instead of just relying on opinions. Getting the entire team to communicate effortlessly with all team members is a must so that everybody’s involvement is ensured. Corporate hierarchies and interdepartmental silos go against the grain of the agile culture. There has to be transparency and an atmosphere of trust and understanding in order to get the best from agile practices.
Having agile teams and processes can lead to some exceptional results like exploiting unexplored opportunities with improved speed to market, better remedial actions at an early stage, higher rates of transparency in operations and a tendency to adapt to ever-evolving customer needs and rapidly altering market dynamics.