Agile tools & technologies

Agile tools such as Kanban, Scrum or Design Thinking and elements of agile techniques can be implemented fairly easily and usually operate on a trial-and-error basis. Technologies, such as digital project management software or knowledge management platforms, support the move towards working in a more agile manner. Even without fully implementing agile tools, communication departments can use elements of agile techniques to help improve project management.

 

Which agile techniques can be applied to become more agile?

Map - Hintergrundbild

In a stand-up meeting all team members report what they have done the day before, where problems might have occurred and what they have planned for the current day. A stand-up meeting should not last more than 15 minutes. The purpose is to keep all team members aware of the project status and give an overall picture of the project.

 

The aim of retrospectives is to learn from the past and thus improve processes. All team members evaluate what went well and what did not. Retrospectives make an important contribution to the continuous improvement of the process including finding the most efficient way to deploy and improve agile practices.

 

Burndown charts visualize and monitor the progress of work. It is a graphical representation of work left to do versus time. It helps to clearly see what is happening and how progress is being made.

 

An iteration or sprint is a fixed period of time within which a team or person works towards the completion of a goal. After the sprint, work should stop and the results and team process are reviewed for better results in the next iteration. Usually, a project consists of a sequence of iterations and one iteration lasts from one day to four weeks.

 

A user story is a brief statement that identifies the stakeholder and their needs or goals. The user story is written in everyday language and from the stakeholder’s point of view. It outlines the role, the action or capability, and the benefit of the project to the user.

 

 

Which tools are most commonly applied?

 

Key facts

  • Agile tools such as Scrum, Kanban or Design Thinking usually are the first things that come to mind when thinking about agility. However, from a strategic perspective such methods are for now the least important issue for communication executives.
  • Many tools are pretty easy to test out in smaller teams or projects. Still, it remains important to maintain a trial and error attitude, and not to follow the methodology to the letter. Each team can adapt it to its needs.
  • Often, teams also mix agile techniques with non-agile techniques.

 

Scientific background

  • Originally, the concept of agility focused on agile manufacturing. It gained momentum when picked up by the software industry, where the concept is most commonly applied today.
  • Soon, a variety of specific methods that operationalize the agile philosophy gained attention, such as Design Thinking, Scrum, or Kanban.
  • In the past, the development and discussion of tools was strongly influenced by practice. In management research and practice, tools have been developed to facilitate processes, e. g. Five Forces by Michael Porter, the Balanced Scorecard by Kaplan and Norton and the BCG-matrix. The tools are summarized in manuals of management researchers. From these, managers can select and adapt suitable tools depending on the problem at hand (e. g. Burtonshaw-Gunn, 2008; Rigby, 2017; Schawel & Billing, 2018).