Jun 12 2018

Embrace Agile Development by Training Everyone at Once

Ease the transition into a new work style by getting all workers to buy in early.

Many agencies are intrigued by the idea of an agile workplace, one that would allow them to shift resources easily, break down silos between teams and departments and deliver projects more efficiently. But where to begin?

One starting point should be a training event that involves all employees. In-house instruction allows the majority of the group that develops software, as well as those that have or manage requirements for software, to get in the same room at the same time and learn the concepts together.

Most offices send only a few key leaders, or perhaps a couple of software developers, to agile training. This is ineffective. Those few individuals come back with radically different ideas that no one else in the office may understand or accept.

SIGN UP: Get more news from the FedTech newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!

How to Get Employees to Buy into Agile Development 

The adoption of agile, a very different method of work than the step-by-step waterfall most developers are used to, requires a broad understanding from multiple points of view throughout the organization. This won’t happen unless a large segment of the organization goes through instruction together — in particular, those who will be using agile in their daily work.

Unlike online training, instruction provided to all employees at the same time can encourage on-the-spot discussion. They’ll be able to discuss more easily — with each other and with their instructor — the details associated with their office’s idiosyncrasies related to existing processes, users and current products. The process of change can begin immediately, at the same time as they’re learning the concepts.

When only a limited number of staff are trained, employees may have a difficult time adopting the new methods, and the response to this failure to change is often blamed on the agile method itself. Comments such as, “We tried agile, but it never took off,” or “Bob and Jane had Scrum training, but nothing became of it; I guess it wasn’t important,” can also be seen as criticism of the perceived capabilities of individual employees.

But the reality is that, in such cases, the method doesn’t have a chance of being adopted; those looking to transform their office aren’t taking into account the wide-reaching cultural, organizational and process changes that have to take place. A mass training event can help ensure that the push for change gains momentum within the workforce. And it allows leadership the opportunity to build understanding within their workforce, gives them the chance to consider how the method will change their work style — and lets them discuss these details with their coworkers during and after training.

Mass Training Events Give Workers a Voice in Transition to Agile 

Mass training events allow everyone involved in software development to start a conversation on how they might want to change how they work, from overall workflow to the small details critical to a successful implementation. An agile workplace brings with it many small, necessary decisions that must be made, and it’s typically most efficient for these decisions to be made at the lowest level possible.

Take the question, “What software should be used to manage and prioritize your office’s backlog?” This should be discussed among those leading the development teams, the developers and the stakeholders. Managers may have an opinion, but the available systems should be tested, and those who will be using them should be involved. This creates buy-in. People are more likely to adopt a particular change if they have a voice in it.

In-house mass training events create an opportunity for everyone to gain a more complete understanding of what the agile method means for the organization. They allow discussions to start regarding work roles, changes to existing processes and how the office may need to reorganize to facilitate teaming and effective feedback.

Perhaps most important, a mass training event lets leaders spread the opportunity to lead change throughout the organization — enlisting many to help shape and drive the method to improve their software, reduce costs and improve overall service to their users.

kasto80/Getty Images

aaa 1