First and foremost one should understand: Agile is not a process, it is a mindset. So first of all, you should get sure that you revolutionize your team's’ minds before revolutionizing the whole process. Our advice is: start by becoming agile, instead of doing agile.
Do gradual changes
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither we became agile in a day. It has been a long and gradual process full of difficulties, misunderstanding, failures and success. First, we adopted the 15-minute stand-up meetings just to strengthen our knowledge sharing and impediment resolving processes. This gave its results rather quickly. People started to get to work earlier and easily got involved in their work.
Later on, we adopted Grooming and Retrospective meetings experience. Groomings helped us to continually look forward and not lose the main goal. Retrospectives added more constructive discussions within the team.
We started using a real agile board to visually see how the work progressed. This raised the concept of ownership for the tasks each developer working on. Soon we started using a virtual agile board as everyone got used to the process.
So little by little, we added more and more elements to our processes and still continue trying new things. As a result, we now have strong agile teams that are fully integrated with the processes.
Never stick to a specific process
Experiment, experiment, experiment. That is exactly what we are doing daily. Many of our experiments are sure failures, some are successes. We never stop experimenting, as we know that without trying we will never find the things that make our agile culture even stronger.
Find effective iteration/sprint duration
Each product has its specifications based on which the sprint duration should be elaborated. So we do not stick to one specific iteration length. With each new project, we come to the optimal duration. However, two-week sprints have proven to be most effective so far for teams of 5-6 members. You can too try having two-week sprints first.
Improve your way of estimating work
This is especially critical if you are an outsource team. For most projects, we have come to story point estimating (planning poker). However, for some projects, we still use hourly estimations. This is based on the team's’ processes we collaborate with on a specific project. The planning poker gives us more abilities to track our progress as well as allows us to defer commitment. Mind that both estimation methods require a good understanding of the scope and accuracy.
Never limit your job responsibilities
In agile teams, there are no designers, QA specialists or software developers. All of them are team members. This is one big rule at Simply. No team members limit his job responsibilities. We all know that everyone can do everything to reach the sprint goal and to bring success to the team.
The moment you become part of an agile team you should stop acting as a separate employee and be an integral part of your team. There are no me and you in agile teams. It’s us that gives results.
So we put WE before I, thus conquering new heights.
Respond to any change
People generally like to stay in their comfort zones both in their everyday and office lives. However, the ones that dare to change, see how many opportunities may come across. Here at Simply, we can claim that we are a team who courageously welcomes changes and uses any obstacle as a new opportunity. These changes have moved us forward, thus making us what we are today.
Take time to develop
We know that our processes and teams need continuous improvement, and we are always striving to learn as any new things as possible. Always keeping up with new technologies is a hard and responsible thing. However, this is the only way to grow and keep up with the market.
Peer management within the agile teams is a great way to promote knowledge. So we have put aside the formal hierarchy and have built everything upon mutual respect.
Show, do not promise
We never consider a work done if we can not see it function. This is one of the rules we never break. Frequent video demonstrations are great to raise trust within the customers and to more strengthen the connection between the team and the clients.
Thousands of companies all over the globe work with agile methodologies. However, you can never find two companies that have the same processes. We know that, and we never strive to be alike to others. We are agile in an our very special way and are doing everything to make it more and more satisfying.