The Agile Manifesto places customer collaboration over contract negotiation with a keen focus on a highly skilled, motivated team in constant interaction with the product and the customer at every phase of the project.
As a result of this collaborative, customer-centric view, agile requires more than the technical expertise needed to gather requirements, and develop and test new product lines. It requires soft skills, leadership competencies and an understanding of how to apply those skills in a more malleable, people-focused setting. As practitioners know, collaboration brings a set of challenges. With the agile approach, project managers are called upon to team up with customers in a constant stakeholder dialogue.
Constant customer collaboration provides great opportunities to measure project success by gauging the level of customer satisfaction throughout each life cycle of the project. It creates the framework for faster time-to-market and a more nimble process to deliver successful project outcomes. When it comes to successful agile project delivery, collaboration also is key for the integrated project team.
What makes good, effective collaboration?
To begin to understand, we should first take a look at the 12 principles behind the Agile Manifesto. These principles, which are the building blocks of agile, identify three areas that lend themselves to successful collaboration. These principles are as follows:
- Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project;
- Projects need to be built around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done;
- The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
Based on the above three principles, successful collaboration among the team relies heavily on three key factors:
How does feedback work in a team environment? What is the most successful way to deliver it on an agile project? Remember that feedback during the iterative development work of an agile project must increase awareness and insight as well as foster innovation, yielding positive alternatives. Having the business as part of the core agile project team creates the environment for continuous feedback and an opportunity to take positive risks in doing things differently, which is the very nature of why the project is being done in an agile setting. Within the iteration work, it is essential to provide feedback that: