What do we mean when we say we’re agile?

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What do we mean when we say we’re agile?

If you’ve had any contact with agencies, you’ve probably heard someone at some point claiming they’re ‘agile’.

We talk about “agile cross-discipline working” at Signal - but we’re not just paying it lip service.

We’ve found that this way of working, interpreted to meet the needs of our clients and the end users, leads to better results and happier teams - particularly for certain projects, such as designing and building websites.

But what do we really mean when we say we’re agile? 

Agile means we can deliver visible results - early and often.

The Agile approach to software development (Agile with an uppercase A) refers to the adoption of methodologies such as Scrum or Kanban (or even Scrumban, which takes the best of both), and the principle of releasing ‘feature complete’ code incrementally, in releases or ‘sprints’. 

A key part of this process is stepping into the shoes of end users by breaking often complex and large scale build projects down into ‘user stories’ - which can be broken down even further into tasks by the team.

The benefits of an Agile approach include:

- An open door policy with our clients, who are actively encouraged to join us for regular project ceremonies/meetings in person or remotely (with coffee and desk space available!)

- Transparency on what we’re up to - we share work early and often, either in person or remotely, so that clients can see how we are progressing through the work 

- Providing clients with useful outputs early in the process, with a focus on delivering something valuable to end users as soon as possible

- Building upon that initial output iteratively once it’s out in the world, through a process of improving, refining and expanding (this is where usability and A/B testing come in)

- Being more sympathetic to minor day-to-day changes and prioritisation of work - we understand that the least is usually known about a project at the beginning.

Not all projects should be Agile

Agile working may not be appropriate for every project, of course. We always work closely with clients first to understand what will suit them and their project best.  

We also understand that religiously adhering to one method comes with constraint and compromise. Fixed budgets and hard deadlines - which most of our agency clients have one or both of, can often lend themselves better to a more blended approach.

We’ll talk more about how we go about choosing a methodology for each project in a future article.

Being not just ‘doing’

In its broadest terms though, agile principles guide our work across the agency (agile with a lowercase ‘a’). It’s also about our mindset and the way we think - being, not just doing.

This includes our ability as a business to adapt to circumstances, learn quickly and evolve – whether that’s to change in the marketplace we operate in, or to requirements and user needs. 

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