Agile Workflows: A Comprehensive Guide in 2023
By Sonal MehtaJul 6, 2022
Every year, 90% of Large IT Projects Fail.
Unstructured. Miscommunicated. Doomed.
It doesn't have to be this way! 🧐
What if we tell you that all of this could have been resolved with Agile methodology? 👻
70% of organizations with strong agile culture achieve a faster time to market, reporting a 237% increase in commercial performance (You can download the report here)
Of course, the methodology works and is celebrated for its excellence to deliver streamlined operations and boost productivity with a high success rate.
Below is everything you need to understand the Agile Workflow Paradigm and how you can implement it in your business to release projects faster, with optimal resources and less red tape.
What is Agile Workflow?
So what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when we utter the word “Agile” - Fast, Quick, and Clear. Right?
That’s the approach we follow with Agile Workflows - helping managers break down the project into small individual cycles called “Sprints”. Each sprint has a clear goal communicated to team members in a transparent and workable environment.
The end result is more efficiency and a high success rate!
How is Agile project management different from traditional project management?
Think about cooking a full course meal without a recipe? Awful, right?
Although there won't be any interruption throughout the process, the end result won't be ideal.
Conventional workflow processes are no different. In the waterfall workflow approach, work is managed in a sequence. No phase begins unless the previous one is completed.
The traditional waterfall workflow is way outdated and inefficient. It allows for only one feedback cycle and manages only one release every six months. This methodology curtails the effectiveness of your product and gives 'scope creep' a red carpet welcome - further adding to costs and delays.
Agile methods, however, frequently involve feedback and improvement in the process.
Agile workflow breakdowns your project into sprints and enables you to incorporate user feedback at the end of each cycle. This process further promotes improved visibility. Thus, enabling you to build a value-based process that meets customers’ demands.
So which is the best Agile Framework for your team?
When it comes to making a choice between different agile frameworks, there are a few considerations such as project timeline and scope, that you must keep in mind.
Long story short, it’s up to you to decide which framework works best for your current projects and the assembled team.
However, when it comes to implementing agile, kanban and scrum are the two most popularly used frameworks to do so.
What is Scrum? Scrum is an agile method used by organizations to divide their projects into small, manageable tasks, also known as sprints. These sprints are then assigned to cross-functional teams to complete in a prescribed time period (generally 2-4 weeks long).
What is Kanban? Kanban is also an agile framework that allows you to visualize your workflow processes on a Kanban board. Often touted as “anti-bottleneck” system, this project management methodology features a series of steps carefully laid out to monitor processes and optimsie workflows as they move toward completion.
While they both function on the same principles i.e building better products and services in a productive environment, it helps to understand the similarities, strengths, and differences between Kanban and Scrum practices.
|Planning||Most suited for projects that require disciplined planning at regular intervals.||As the workflow is continuous, the teams are given the flexibility to plan their work on the basis of their own cadence.|
The projects are divided into sprints that can last up to 2-4 weeks. The plan-do-check-act (PCDA) cycle works better forcomplex, iterative work.
|This framework follows continuous workflow. So as soon as one task is complete, the individual can “pull” a new task.|
|Modifications/Changes||It is not possible to add tasks/items to an ongoing project.||If the capacity is available, changes can be made to the existing plan.|
|Roles & Responsibilities||Roles and responsibilities are pre-defined on the basis of team members’ capacity and talent.||No such roles and responsibilities are dictated in this framework. The team collaborates and works together to complete the project.|
|Transparency||It uses product backlog, sprint backlog, and an increment to track requirements, work in progress, and deliverables. Respectively provide requirements, implementation, and deliverables transparency.||No such transparency is available with the Kanban method. It’s suitable for projects where only implementations need to be tracked.|
In practice, it’s never about Kanban V/S Scrum. In fact, many organizations practice both in tandem to improve workflow and increase productivity. (But that’s something that totally depends on the nature of the project and the teams working on it)
Now that we have given you a sneak peek into the world of Scrum and Kanban, it’s time to take you through the steps to implement these into your projects. Since Scrum is a widely used agile framework in modern spaces, we’ll keep it at the baseline for structuring an agile environment with SmartTask below.
Let’s begin at the very beginning - understanding the common terminologies so you don’t get lost between the marvels of stories, features, and portfolios that are going to address in the guide below.
|Common Scrum Concepts||Translated in SmartTask|
|Features||Create one project for each feature|
|Stories||Create tasks in your feature project|
|Task||Add sub-tasks to your story tasks|
|Backlog||Add activities or todos to your tasks|
|Sprint||Bite-sized tasks to complete the main task|
How to create and implement an agile workflow?
As with any change, implementing Agile processes into your business can be a daunting task, but in reality, it isn't if you understand the mechanism well. Working with a robust project management tool lets you maximise team’s productivity by balancing work with real capacity.
Below, we’ll take you through the steps of creating an Agile Workflow for a Software Service Company using SmartTask.
Let’s start at the very beginning.
Step 1 - Start by creating Epics
At its basic level, the epics are larger bodies of work that can be broken down into small pieces. Creating end-to-end management software for a logistics firm will be an Epic. Epics typically are the end goal made up of multiple modules or features.
Steps to create Epics with SmartTask:
- Open the SmartTask App and Click on Portfolio on the middle left.
- Click on the + Card visible on the screen
- Create your project. You can create as many projects as you’d like.
Step 2 - Create Features and Backlogs
Now that you’ve laid the foundation for the agile project, the next step is to create features and backlogs in your group. Your feature document will accommodate large activities that will guide you to achieve small epics.
For example: If you’re planning to launch a Virtual Summit this year, then your features here can be Planning, Website Launch, Vendor Management, Sales and Data, Marketing Launch, and Customer Feedback.
The Backlogs, on the other hand, will help you track work progress as your teams move to the next sprint. Backlogs are the activities that are still work in progress.
Now how will you create features and backlogs in SmartTask?
Steps to Create Features:
- In SmartTask, your “projects” are the “features” that you can start creating as soon as you’ve assembled your team.
- Find and click on the + button on the left next to Projects.
- Click on the Template tab in the Top Right of the window to check if any of the SmartTask-created templates match your project requirement. Or else, you can click on the Blank Project to get started.
- Regardless of the format, you’ll be required to fill in the fields to update the Project Name and Due Date. Add this feature or project to the main Portfolio and choose a view from the listed options i.e Timeline, List, Board, and Calendar.
- Click on the Add Column Field on the right top to start adding Custom Fields. This is where you can track things like cost, the impact of the epic, delivery lags, etc.
- Now that your Features are in place, let's add backlogs.
How to add new items to the backlog: Once you have created features, choose a view, select a Custom Field and start adding Backlog tasks.
If you wish to add Sub-tasks to your backlogs, click on the task. Click on the three dots on the top bar of the task description page and select Add SubTask.
How to prioritize from the backlog
This is where the Custom Field created in the last step will come into play. Adding custom fields like priority, stage, etc. to your backlog project can help you sort the project on various parameters to prioritize from the backlog.
Step 3 - Create Stories and Add them to your Sprints
The “Story” is nothing but a fancy word for “Tasks” that can be further broken down into actionable epics. For instance, for an Epic like Content Marketing, you could have a Content Writing Story - “Best ways to be productive”, further broken down into preliminary research, keyword and title selection, creating an outline, submitting the first draft, and so on.
Follow the steps below to create stories in SmartTask
- Click on the Add Task tab and start and type the Title for the actionable step.
- Fill out the custom fields added in the last stage along with other relevant details in the task description box.
- Add the start date and due date before you assign the task to the team member responsible for the job. This will help them prioritize their workload.
- If necessary, you can break down these tasks into subtasks to achieve the goals faster.
- This is also the stage where you can start planning sprints to better manage your agile project in SmartTask.
Congratulations, you’ve successfully built a Scrum framework with SmartTask! 🙂
Step 4 - Conducting an effective release in SmartTask
Effective release of the project means that the tasks assigned were successfully accomplished by the team members. But if there are some incomplete features and backlogs, move them to the next sprint. Create a new task and assign it to the person who’d be responsible for getting things done in the new sprint. You can use SmartTask’s Progress View to post final sprint results and share them with the team.
Scrum Retrospective play a significant role in completion of the Sprint. At this stage the Scrum Master discusses the performance of team members, the challenges they faced and the scope of improvement in the next sprint. It also provides opportunities to focus on adaptations and make actionable commitments.
Go back to the first step again >>
Best Agile Workflow software in 2023 - SmartTask
As we have explored in this article when teams have clarity and the right tools to get things done, there's no telling how much more can be accomplished within a positive Agile environment.
For such a highly dynamic work methodology that’s being adopted at different scales in almost every industry, SmartTask is an ideal task management software to experience the change. Most importantly, streamline the workflow process, improve productivity and increase efficiency without any unnecessary hiccups.
SmartTask features to make your Agile Workflow more robust
Custom Dashboard: Analyze your projects, and get updates on work progress in real-time.
Multiple Views - Switching between views is fun, but equally insightful. Choose from the available formats - Board view, List view, Timeline, Calendar view, and more.
Task Reminder: Set reminders on critical tasks and get notified on mobile, desktop, and email.
Time Tracking: Time reporting and estimates help understand resource utilization as well as budget and cost implications.
Project Status Updates: Update the team-members on how the project is progressing
Portfolio View: Have overview of all ongoing projects - their statuses and predicted completion date in one single view
Workload View: Understand whether the team's over-worked or under-utilized.
Guest Users: Invite external collaborators like Clients, Vendors and 3rd party and collaborate together.
Chat Interface: Connect with teams at personal or project level with SmartTask’s in-built chat platform.
Video Conferencing: Trigger video meeting from task and chat view with a click, add team members, adjust quality, and record conversations to your local device.
Filters - Don’t waste time “looking” for data, Filter with one click across projects, and don’t forget to save the preference for quick access in the future.
Color-coded Labels - Colors communicate in their own language, giving just the right information to predict the workflow. Red Alerts or Green Passes?
Reminders and Notifications: Keep the work and teams on track with real-time Alerts, notifications, and reminders
Custom Fields: Add more information to the task with custom - Text, Number, Date, and Dropdowns.
App-integrations: 1000+ integrations to help you achieve almost everything from one single platform.
Start creating your Agile Workflow with SmartTask for FREE!
Clear Goals and Objectives: Why would a monkey climb a banana tree and a lion will not? It’s the clarity of goals and motivation that makes us do things. Communicate the objectives and goals of the project at hand. You can start with how it will benefit the client and the company in the long run.
Working Software: For any Agile Workflow to get things done it’s important to invest in a project management software that offers all the agile tools and resources you need to keep the project goal and teams aligned. Get more details on this here.
Sustainable Development: An exhausted team is the main reason for failure. You don't want to be guilty of that. Promoting work-life balance is an important aspect of the Agile paradigm.
Self-organizing Teams: A positive agile environment creates a sense of autonomy and responsibility amongst team members to meet the goals of the sprint.
Continuous Monitoring: Celebrate small achievements, but do not forget to stay on top of the tasks so you know which sprint or a team member needs more attention than the other.
Flexible Adaptation: Always leave some room for making last-minute changes and ensure that you’re team is flexible enough to welcome changing requirements.
Customer Satisfaction: A happy customer is not a myth if you have done your work right! Be agile from start to finish if you really want the project to succeed with flying colors.