Transforming from Waterfall to Agile involves a lot of hard work. Just like you can’t walk into the White House, you can’t simply decide to be agile. In his book Waterfall to Agile: A Practical Guide to Agile Transition, Arie Van Bennekum writes ‘transitioning from waterfall to agile is proving difficult for many people who can see the potential benefits agile has to offer but are struggling to get ‘the powers that be’ on-board. Understandibly this can be very frustrating.’
But honestly, it doesn’t have to work that way. No need to be all worked up. As Arie puts it, ‘with proven techniques and strategies, you will be able to create a successful Agile transition that’ll give you more influence in your organization and greater control over your career’. In this post, we highlight 5 stepping stones, which will help you climb up the agile ladder successfully.
How to Transition from Waterfall to Agile?
- Change is Necessary, But Why? Humans are skeptical beings. Whenever there’s a case of change, they want to know why is it necessary and how it would affect them. The same goes with your team. There are several project management methodologies out there – Prince2, Agile, Waterfall – each having its own set of pros and cons. Tell your team why agile is great and how it will simplify things for them. You can choose to draw context to make change seem less intimidating. Besides, you must assure your team that while the methodology is changing, the approach towards interpersonal project relations isn’t. It remains the same across all methodologies.
- Training is Your Key Arsenal. Any transition calls for rigorous training, so that those involved are fluent with the new method – both conceptually and practically. When switching to agile, you need to train your team in an agile way. Forget the traditional way of sending teams to trainings and letting them apply it to real-life only once the training is complete. Instead, try the agile way of teaching. Let team members meet regularly, have discussions, and share ideas about how they can implement the agile framework to current and upcoming projects. This will help them adapt the new method easily
- Communicate, and Communicate a Lot More. Communication is critical to agile. Being conducive and collaborative in nature, agile demands that the team have already developed a certain level of communication skills across various media, whether written, verbal or tool-based. PayPal’s technology VP Kirsten Wolberg reveals how she used communication to populate agile in the organization – “One of the first things I did was spend a lot of time talking to developers and managers and leaders on the product, and engineering to understand the pain points within the organization. One of themes was that it was just really hard to get work done within the PayPal technology organization. There were a lot of root causes for that, but this was an organization definitely poised for large-scale change.” So, by cultivating open communication practices within the team, you prepare a more receptive ground where agile can catch on quickly.
- Connect the Old to the New. People understand new concepts better when explained in context with something they already know. So the idea is to draw parallels between the existing method and the new way. For instance, if you are transforming from Waterfall to Scrum (a form of agile), you can explain the team how Scrum Meetings are nothing but mini-initiating and planning sessions (two terms borrowed from Waterfall). Or Scrum Sprints are similar to Waterfall Milestones. Connecting the old with the new will change the way people look at the new method and smoothen the transition process.
- Stay Committed. This can be a little challenging. Committing to agile means you’ll have to do away with practices you’ve long been following in pretext of Waterfall methodology. You might have to rethink giving up on old processes for good, or tweak them in a way that they adhere by agile principles. These processes include bug resolution and requirements review. In order to stay committed keep yourself focused on the high level benefits of agile and how it will make project management simple for you.
But above all it is important to enjoy the transition. As Chandrashekhar Madabhavi points out, “Enjoy the journey with team, and success will be yours. Celebrate small deliveries. Rotate team members and give them occasional breaks so that they can gain energy and come back stronger.”
Need help with going Agile? Contact VenturePact today.