In the Agile beginning…
Agile: a topic that more leaders are becoming familiar with in the software development world, but what does it mean to be an Agile company? The short answer is simply: “whatever you want it to be, baby.” Agile companies aim for one simple thing in their operation, continuous improvement. How they do that is less cut-and-dry though.
The Agile idea got started by a group of software leaders back in 2001 who went into the woods looking for enlightenment for their respective organizations (really, we’re not making that up). When they came back out, they’d written out for themselves a proverbial tablet of commandments which came to be known as the “Agile Manifesto”. These leaders proclaimed then and there that Agile teams and organizations should value:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
As businesses continue to evolve from the old-hat, punch-clock, top-heavy ways of thinking and working, they’re starting to adopt these values in bigger ways. Ultimately, businesses the world-over are realizing that without people, you have neither customers, nor employees. In the interest of building well-performing and happy development teams, software companies are starting to adopt processes that focus much more on sustainable work, software that does more, and offers the potential for longer-term iteration and expansion; all things that both customers and employees can benefit from.
Compare that idea to back before the age of common household internet. Early console and PC games of the time didn’t have the communication technologies or updatable software that we have today. If a CD rom, pack of floppy disks, or cartridge contained a game full of bugs, it was pretty likely the end user would be seeking a refund and all the copies that were printed with that version were garbage.
The success of those applications was being bet on by the idea of that perfect big-bang release, and the same was true for just about every computer application you can think of. Fast forward to today when games, software, and operating systems are all becoming infamous for the world-renown day-one patch (we’re looking at you, Cyberpunk), which might look like like the dev team really screwed up on the surface.
But there’s something to be said for the way game developers using Agile mindset have operated here. The day-one patch, while probably annoying to every gamer on the planet, is a perfect real-world example of how game studios receive feedback from and communicate with customers about bugs, desired features, and content updates to make a game on version 1.0 a better experience in version 1.1. Developers can iterate more frequently on their games, even post-release, and ultimately customers love it. Grand Theft Auto Online has been adding content to the game since October, 2013!
Agile at Avant:
We know what you’re probably thinking at this point: “this ‘agile’ thing is super ambiguous.” and you wouldn’t be wrong. The key take away is that Agile is a MINDSET, a way of thinking. There are a lot of ways you can be agile as a team and as an organization (here are a few flavours) but what’s most important to note it is that Agile organizations aim for continuous improvement in everything they do. At Avant, LEAN methodologies and Kanban boards are our jam, something Jira helps us to organize. We aim to cut the fluff from our processes that don’t add value for our customer experience and we operate Kanban boards to keep everything that needs doing on track. That’s what works best for us but teams of people are always unique. Cherry-picking the best-fitting parts of Agile methodology for your team is exactly how it should be applied.