How Agile Methodology can help you thrive with Salesforce
So, what exactly is agile methodology?
In the past, it was most common for teams to debut new projects through what is known as waterfall methodology. The process starts with teams and clients coming together to establish requirements, then going on to follow a linear series of up to seven steps. In order to move on to the next step, they need to have fulfilled the previous one. In this way, each step flows directly into the next—a bit like a waterfall. Over time, the ever-changing client requirements and challenges presented by this method led to the development of a new project organization strategy.
Agile methodology was first introduced in 2001 as a swifter, more efficient way of approaching projects. With agile, projects are split into multiple organized stages, allowing for smoother and more consistent communication between teams and clients. Instead of focusing on one major release, teams plan for a handful of small-scale releases called sprints. This enables teams to adapt to changes more effectively.
When we discussed agile methodology with our team, we learned that they are able to prioritize tasks and adjust goals more efficiently. It’s very helpful for making decisions; it allows us to set expectations and have clear, collaborative communication with our clients.
The agile frameworks are scrum and kanban. It’s important to know that choosing the best agile framework will depend on your team’s cultural values, along with understanding which framework can be the best fit for your client.
Scrum & Kanban
While agile is more of a way of thinking, scrum is a teamwork strategy.
The basic idea of scrum is to encourage teams to start working in a way that inspires an agile mindset. It is a workflow in which roles, meetings, and deliverables are well-defined. You reduce risk and costs, and you can focus on specific solutions. Scrum allows teams to continuously test and improve their products and processes.
Scrum is composed of four ceremonies: stand-up, sprint planning, sprint retrospective, and sprint review. Each ceremony is fundamental to the overall process. Our team member, Emiliano, said: “I think the four ceremonies are necessary when they’re applied in the appropriate way and don’t take up more time than they should, otherwise they could negatively affect the outcome and therefore the efficiency of the team in completing tasks.“
Kanban is a method for the more infrastructure-focused or operations-oriented teams that support either production or customer issues.
Within the framework of kanban, real-time communication and full transparency are the key aspects of the work. In this method, work is divided up into pieces, each written onto a card that is placed on a wall (either physical or virtual).
Items are represented visually on this kanban board, where team members can see the state of any piece of work at any time. Aside from this, teams also deal with the principal metrics of kanban -- lead time and throughput.
An important takeaway from all of this is that scrum requires large-scale changes in a team’s approach, whereas kanban offers a more gradual adjustment to an entirely new work methodology. In both cases, teams can define work in progress limits (WIP limits) through which they are able to put a cap on the number of tasks being worked on in any one phase of the process.
Now that you have a basic idea of how these frameworks function, how can you decide which one will fit best with your team?
Ultimately, that depends on what it is you’re trying to achieve and how constant your stream of work is able to be. It’s crucial to consider the level of importance that your team places on work capacity and predictability when it comes to substantial projects.
Also, you need to think about how urgent the work is to your team and how early you’d like to start planning for it. Then, is there a strict deadline to be adhered to?
All of these factors must be taken into account when making your agile decision.
How agile helps us
Salesforce adopted the agile methodology in 2006 to improve productivity. Since then, they’ve increased productivity by 38% and major releases have been completed faster.
At Modelit, we use agile methodology in all of our departments. Pablo, one of our team leads, told us about the importance of agile methods: “Agile allows you to have clear goal setting and planning, prioritizing the main tasks. It’s beneficial in creating a final product as expected, without surprises. You can save time and economic resources.”
Agile helps us by giving every member of the team ownership and shared expectations for the work in front of them. It’s currently the best approach to working with Salesforce. Teams can learn new information about both their workflow and the product. We improve our delivery and make sure that we have smoother releases, avoiding inconvenience.
With daily stand-ups and short sprints, our team can learn what works and what doesn't work. We have the chance to respond to customer feedback swiftly, with some kind of tangible result prepared for demonstration at each sprint. With one member selected to organize schedules and priorities for the rest of the team, it’s easier for everyone to stay focused on the task at hand.
Choosing the right workflow process for your team comes down to answering a few key questions about your current project:
- What are the targets and must-haves for this project?
- How challenging will the solution be overall?
- What experience do all parties involved have with agile methodology?
Project management should begin with setting clear expectations. Defining the goals of a project and what is required to achieve the goal is essential for every step of the process, from ideation to delivery. The first step in any workflow process is identifying the targets and must-haves for the project. This involves getting input from all stakeholders -- including management, clients, team members, and anyone else with a vested interest in the project’s success. Once you have a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished, it’s important to prioritize those goals in order of importance. Having clearly defined targets will help keep everyone on track as work progresses, and ensure that no essential steps are missed.
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