Even the Great Recession did not create the kind of business uncertainty that COVID-19 or the coronavirus outbreak has caused. The community spread is causing even more panic. To flatten the curve, companies have shifted their office to remote working environments.
At Classic Informatics, we started taking measures like work from home to flatten the curve. And remote working did not seem as nightmarish to us as it did to many other organizations.
As an agile practitioner, we feel fortunate that we adopted the company-wide agile development approach 4-5 years back. While this model has always helped us serve our clients better by delivering quality in a short time, it is situations like what we are facing today, when this model seems like a Godsent.
Agile empowered us to not just survive through this change, but also thrive and emerge stronger. But before we decode how it helped us amid this global unrest, let’s understand agile a bit and how it works.
What Is Agile Development?
At the very core, agile is nothing but a people-centered approach that ensures better collaboration, communication, rapid learning, fast decision cycles, and, most importantly, tangible result. Talking broadly about agile- it is an iterative approach that breaks down any project into small baby steps called sprints. It helps organizations deliver quality products that have been improved, as per the feedback of the target users.
Unlike the waterfall method, where the structure is sequential and rigid, agile allows simultaneous testing within the sprints. Sprints are the two-week time boxes that are assigned when we know what the client wants initially.
We don’t just follow Agile; that’s how we work.
Classic Informatics has been using the agile development approach for over five years now. This method has helped us deliver all types of projects and products in a short time. We divide all our projects into smaller chunks, chunks that are easier to complete quickly. As we avoid bombarding our team members with the complete project at one go, we ensure that they deliver nothing but quality in these sprints. Moreover, gathering feedback and working on the same to improve the product even further.
As a web development company, we are also a practitioner of Daily stand-ups that are meetings conducted on a daily basis where each individual shares what their status is and how far ahead of behind they are in the sprint. These aren't metaphorical standups, rather quite literal ones!
We literally gather in the cafeteria or even right in front of our systems and quickly check on each other. Here, we discuss what’s on our plate for the day, our priorities, and all such things. These meetings are not to solve the critical problems in any project, rather they help us understand what needs more attention and collaboration for the same.
How Agile Helped Us Through This Global Unrest
As offices have shut their doors for employees and asked them to transition into remote working teams, we read how so many organizations faced challenges during these times. But our agile style of working enabled us to transition into a remote working environment overnight.
We have our teams spread across four locations globally, spanning four different time zones. So, we always knew what how to work things out in remote working. We have habituated ourselves and made the remote working tools a part of our working environment.
Daily Scrums Via Zoom/Skype
Prioritizing tasks, getting updates regularly, and setting a tone for daily progress has enabled us to get continue our operations smoothly even during this pandemic. We are habituated to daily stand-up meetings. So, all we had to do was shift them to virtual world. Our meetings still continue, only now, we see each other on our system screens.
Leveraging Collaboration Tools
Apart from that, the tools that are best known for remote working like Slack, JIRA, Basecamp, etc., have always been a part of our daily working. Whether it is assigning tasks, getting work done, setting deadlines, scheduling meetings, or anything else, we have been making use of all tools that are great with agile development. So, we needed no training getting familiar with the tools. This is how we've been managing our daily activities, action plans, and other things on Basecamp.
Setting The Project Rhythm Virtually
Two weeks back as well, we were starting each sprint with a planning including our project managers and key stakeholders/clients. This still continues as it was before, without any fail. Once this is done, we get to the assigning of tasks for that sprint among the developers, designers, testing teams, and all other members. Here's our Business Development team discussing the project plan on Zoom.
Keeping Clients In The Loop
Moreover, today, there is an unrest among businesses and even our clients have shown signs of confusion regarding their projects. But our regular virtual meetings with our clients have assured them that their work is still in progress. There are no delays, no quality loss, nothing at all.
Attending client calls has been a regular thing for us. Just that, before coronavirus, these used to be from our office meeting rooms, now they're from our home offices.
This Is The Time. Become Agile Enthusiasts!
Our working habits were and are still agile. What has changed is only the placement of our workstations! Two weeks back also we were making technology work for us; today also, we are leveraging technologies to serve better.
We all know that agile and scrum were designed to ensure quick and seamless adaption of teams to the sudden and unexpected demands of the clients. Only this time, it wasn’t some sudden change demanded by client! This time it was a global unrest that called for an instant change in our working environment itself.
This coronavirus outbreak has made us realize that change is the only constant! You never know when something erupts and changes everything around you. No one knows till when this unrest would continue. But being agile practitioners and enthusiasts could certainly help in being resilient to cope with such changes and recover immediately without letting our work be affected.