Staying Agile: The Swan Journey

From the beginning of time, every person has longed for a silver bullet for something. In the world of software, particularly in the world of developing software, silver bullets are almost real. Different solutions rapidly arise, each displaying the same bright promise. A few are snake oil solutions, many have some value, and some are genuinely wonderful. To work on, in or with one of these new ideas can be a thrilling experience, full of innovation and excitement.

What happens when the shine wears off? You’ve put all this time and effort into implementing new ways and processes when you realize: the work hasn’t gone anywhere. It still needs doing, and the bright new ways are beginning to be a drag instead of a help.

Long-term agile use is a wonderful example. Agile is arguably one of the very best methods out there in the software development world. Many companies use it with great success. Old enough to be out of the ‘trend’ stage of development, yet young enough that people can easily get on board, Agile had it all for a time.

Then, the horror stories began to be published. Other variations of Agile cropped up, promising in their turn to solve the existing problems. Coaching systems and tutors offered their services. And the cycle began again. Was long term agile use sustainable?

Yes! And it doesn’t have to be that way. Repeat: it does not have to be that way. You can keep the vigor of the early days and the productivity of the old ways at the same time. True, it will never be the same as the very first days, but Agile works for a reason. Here’s how Swan kept the vision of Agile and cared for the practical needs of our team and customers.

Long-term Commitment

We leverage a fully extended agile scrum method  at Swan. When we created our processes, we did so around this model. Agile scrum is embedded in our business. It is not tacked on to existing ways and company traditions. We designed ourselves for long-term Agile use. And it pays off!

Deliberate Team Creation

Many of the core Agile principles center around people and the teams that they create. However, for a truly optimized team, some management is needed. Our Swan teams are carefully crafted for each customer’s needs. When needs change, the team changes right along with the need. Short or long-term Agile use–it’s all the same. This is flexibility at its best!

Communication

Another piece of the Agile foundation is face to face communication. As humans, this can be hard for many of us. It’s easy to find excuses, particularly if there isn’t much pressure. But once communication starts to slip away, the principles and methods begin to grind to a halt. It’s not a problem with the method; the method is just not being followed.

The solution comes down to the overall dedication of the team to whatever method you are using. In Swan’s case, that is agile scrum. We’ve established a set of guidelines for communication across every internal team and we hold each other accountable. When things start dragging, sometimes it takes extra commitment to get the same results.

Hard Work!

At the beginning of any popular new idea, it’s easy to get swept away by the sheer newness of the thing. Unfortunately that phase never lasts. In order to keep the results coming, work has to be done. It’s not at all fun or glamorous. This is not the method’s fault, nor is it the team’s fault. It’s just a fact.

Agile or not, hard-working, motivated teams have an advantage that less motivated teams simply don’t.  At the risk of patting ourselves on the back, we pride ourselves at Swan on our team spirit and work ethic. Don’t just take our word for it; check out our team pages and our case studies of our happy clients here and see what our teams can do.

When a truly revolutionary idea becomes a much better way of doing things, it takes time to make the switch. Sometimes, some organizations just can’t or should not adopt new methods, depending on the resources that they have. Does this mean that the ideas and new methods are either a cure-all or should be scrapped? On the contrary, it’s up to you to decide what will work and what you want to put time and effort into.

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