Agile work in software development: benefits of agility

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Example for the diagram

Agile work: Purpose and value creation of agile project management.
Agility test for companies

Vielfalt von agiles Arbeiten

Welcome to the age of autonomous driving, mobility services, artificial intelligence, fintech, and many other fast-moving, complex, and highly ambivalent topics.

Thanks to advancing digitization, our working world is facing a paradigm shift. A change in thinking and culture seems inevitable: in traditional patterns of action, rooted structures, and established decision-making paths. A change away from pure top-down delegation and work-fulfillment assistants towards more intelligent collaboration. Not as an end in itself, but to generate the earliest possible customer benefits in software/digitization projects.

Is the project on the right track? Values such as knowledge work, communication, collaboration, teamwork, adaptability, and openness can function as early warning system. Values that are also part of a modern attitude and way of working. Old basic assumptions like IT vs. business need to be eliminated and new ones to be learned – especially, and above all, in the context of digitalization.

What is agile work?

Agile work can be viewed from several perspectives: from the organization, the individual, or even the respective team. If we take a look at an agile team, we can observe similarities in these teams that can be traced back to common values, principles, and basic assumptions. Permanent learning and open exchange between all project participants, focusing on individuals and their interactions, are an integral part of these teams.

A shared mindset is one result of these common features. You could also call it a "structure of thinking and behavior", which is referred to as "agile". This mindset comes with the following clear awareness: we work and find ourselves in an environment that is subject to constant change. This change is perceived sensitively to recognize opportunities and risks at an early stage and to reflect on them, to learn from experience, to adapt and, if necessary, to make course corrections. The real reason – "And all for what?" – is never lost sight of: to create added value.

Agile work in practice value creation already during development

The benefits of agile work are complex and diverse. The following example of an agile software development team demonstrates a small excerpt.

Mr. A. is the product manager and at the same time the customer working with an agile team. He has the leading role of his product and has one goal in mind: to bring a specific product to market and maximize its value.

He and his development team work in two-week iterations. Every day, the developers hold a short meeting to inspect whether their initial iteration is going according to plan or if they need to adapt certain things.

  • Unexpected events and undesired disturbances can be revealed and made transparent immediately. Using the team's swarm intelligence, decisions can be made on how to deal with these influences.
  • A new version of the product is available after two weeks at the latest. This version can be rolled out immediately if required by the product owners. They get feedback from the developers and then draws their conclusions. The advantage of an early release is obvious: risk minimization.
  • Thanks to the early feedback from the market, it is possible to react directly and, if the market situation requires it, to make a course correction even during product development.
  • It may even appear that a certain feature is not desired in the future, which in turn could save costs. Sponsors would most likely appreciate it.
  • Before the final product roll-out, the entire team and stakeholders inspect the product in a review meeting. Everyone involved is aware that these regular, joint meetings are necessary and valuable.
  • At the end of an iteration, the team conducts a retrospective in which the participants reflect on the past two weeks. Learnings are discussed openly and confidently in a pleasant atmosphere: What went well during that time? What could have been better? What will the team do differently in the next weeks to become even more effective?  

Agile work in practice typical challenges and questions

To work agile, it is not enough to focus on methods and practices. Old basic assumptions should be eliminted and new ones should be learned. We show typical assumptions and reality through and with agile collaboration. Maybe the following classic assumptions sound familiar to you and should be questioned: 

Assumption: Efforts, milestones, deadlines can be specified in advance by people with no background in the field and without involving the implementing team. Nevertheless, the expectation is that software is implemented in scope, in budget, and in time, even if the effort estimates were created without the technicians and developers.

Assumption: Documentation of requirements > Communication. Documentation of requirements is the essential element. The more precisely and detailed requirements are defined, the less important communication becomes. Because requirements can be developed and processed diligently, without any questions. Intermediate questions and iterations are then no longer needed.

Assumption: Business and IT are different departments – two different worlds that should not be mixed!

Assumption: Agility? There's not even any planning involved!

These are everyday examples of classic basic assumptions that lead to dysfunctional teamwork. Competitive, innovative, and adaptable teams show different dynamics.

Agility is an individual challenge for every company
This is how jambit can support you

Agiles Arbeiten bei jambit

Let's be honest: How agile is your company? Is the respective product owner really empowered to make real decisions? Have you defined a clear product goal for the project or product, which all stakeholders know and equally recognize? Do the stakeholders seriously see added value in agile collaboration with the implemented teams? Or do you just want to be part of the movement around the buzzword? 

Every company encounters its own individual challenges on the way to agile work. And often it is only necessary or possible to start exactly where you are at the moment. These are not exceptional situations: Deal with the conditions that set the framework. Adapt, learn, and make the most effective of it. Evolution instead of revolution describes it best.

jambit develops tailor-made solutions together with the customer that exactly fit the respective company, work, and project situation – especially when canned solutions do not meet the requirements. Experienced agile coaches support with their knowledge and can draw on collective know-how within jambit. Beyond that, jambit has over ten years of experience in agile work. 

The use of Scrum Masters, agile work, and development in an agile context lie close to jambit's heart. For several years, we have been taking a step-by-step approach to this, including introducing agile patterns and principles of sociocracy 3.0 at jambit itself. Why? Because we firmly believe that this is how we live and grow to be a more effective self-organization. A "growth" mindset is a general principle at jambit. We believe that change is necessary and possible. Those who have already worked with jambit know that we go through life with an attitude that conveys our jambit spirit.

You have questions about agile work or want to know how to improve the agility of your company?

Let's talk about agility comfortably over a cup of coffee. 

In our experience, highly effective and satisfied teams are created when the clear distinction between customer and contractor becomes blurred and both sides engage in a trusting way of working based on feedback and exchange. 100% customer enthusiasm is our benchmark.

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