Agile Workflows: What It Is and How to Implement It
Looking to understand what an Agile workflow is and learn how to implement it?
With tons of companies adopting the Agile approach to project management, adopting an Agile workflow has never been more popular.
But what is an Agile workflow and how do you implement it?
This article has everything you need to come to grips with Agile development and implement its principles in your business.
Let’s get started!
What is Agile project management?
Agile project management is a modern project management methodology that boosts your project’s efficiency and success rate.
It does this by:
- Breaking your project into smaller individual cycles
- Actively involving customers in the product development process and continually implementing their feedback
How is Agile project management different than traditional project management?
Most project management methods only incorporate user feedback after the product has been released. That’s why methods like the Waterfall model can only handle one major release every six months or so.
While the waterfall process allows you to work uninterrupted, it can reduce the effectiveness of your product as you haven’t tested it with your customers.
Agile methods, however, continually involve customers in the process.
Agile methods do this by splitting the product development process into small, manageable development cycles called sprints. As you’re breaking down your project into these sprints, you can incorporate user feedback at the end of each cycle.
For example, if you’re working on a piece of software, you can develop one feature during each cycle (sprint). After developing each feature, you get customer feedback on it and then take action on it before moving on to your next software feature.
By doing this, you’re actively involving the customer in the development process instead of assuming what they want.
This way, when you compare the Agile vs Waterfall development methodologies, Agile will usually help you create software that satisfies customers better!
4 key elements of Agile workflows
Before going into the workflow behind Agile methods, it’s important to understand a few key terms that are essential to the product development process:
A. The Agile manifesto and the 12 key agile principles
The Agile manifesto is a simple summation of what the Agile methodology is all about. It’s a blueprint for what all your projects should aspire to be!
It contains 12 key Agile principles that you must follow to achieve success.
Here’s a look at those principles of Agile development:
A. Agile principles of customer satisfaction
- Customer satisfaction is every project’s top-most priority. You can only achieve this by continuous improvement through test-driven development.
- Embrace changing requirements – even if it’s towards the end of your development process. These iterative (recurring) changes will help you design a product that the customer wants.
- Deliver working software and services often. This is the only way to get constant customer feedback to adapt to their changing needs.
B. Agile principles of quality
- Success, according to the Agile process, is defined as working software that satisfies a customer’s needs.
- Your test-driven development workflow must be sustainable. Your Agile team must maintain the pace and quality of your work indefinitely.
- Continuous dedication to technical excellence helps you design a final product that satisfies customer needs.
C. Agile principles of teamwork
- Active collaboration between team members and project stakeholders is essential for continuous improvement.
- Build your development workflow around highly motivated people. Give them the support and environment they need to be productive.
- Face-to-face conversation, in person, is the most efficient collaboration method.
- Self-organizing teams deliver the best working software. When teams manage themselves, they won’t need as much supervision – speeding your progress up.
D. Agile principles of project management
- Simplicity is essential to all Agile projects. Eliminate any unnecessary iterative procedures.
- Constantly evaluate your team’s progress at regular intervals. This helps you develop better iterative processes in the future.
B. Product backlog
All Agile development methods start with developing your product backlog.
Your product backlog contains all the tasks and ideas involved in the development of a product.
While your backlog initially starts off as a rough bunch of ideas you’ve brainstormed, it slowly takes shape as your project moves along.
As you incorporate more customer feedback, you’ll get a better idea of what to target and what your customers want. This way, your backlog continues to grow more concrete as you progress.
Your backlog items should be:
- Well-defined – with a clear reason why it benefits the user
- Prioritized – to highlight the most urgent user stories (backlog items)
- Tightly Scoped – to ensure that they’re manageable within a given time frame
Sprints are where you take action on your backlog items.
These short development cycles have a clear set of goals that need to be completed within a given time frame.
Usually, your sprints tackle only a few different backlog items to ensure that they’re quickly finished.
This way, you can get customer feedback immediately and any necessary action. It guards against your team working endlessly on a large set of features that need to be redone entirely!
Holding regular meetings is another essential part of the Agile process.
You need to check-in with your project team regularly to stay updated and keep everyone on the same page.
Here are the two kinds of meetings that need to be part of your development workflow:
A. Daily Standups
These are daily meetings you hold to go over what already happened, what’s happening today and what you need help with. This is a good way to check-in with your team and ensure that everything is proceeding smoothly.
These are meetings conducted after a sprint is finished. In these review meetings, you go over what happened, what went wrong and what went right. It’s a good way to get the data you need to optimize your sprints (iterations) in the future.
The Agile workflow process
Here’s a breakdown of what an Agile workflow looks like.
Note: As Agile software development methods are the most popular forms of Agile, we’ll be focusing on the software development workflow process. However, the workflow process largely remains the same – regardless of the kind of project you’re working on.
The Agile software development cycle
Here’s a breakdown of the typical software development methods in the Agile process:
In this stage, your project is planned and envisioned. You develop your product backlog and start planning out your sprints.
Now, you create your sprint teams and assign them to their respective sprints. Your working environments and project requirements are now also fleshed out.
In this stage, your development team starts to work on your sprints – tackling your product backlog items.
Once a sprint is completed, you release it to your customer base and get their feedback. You then incorporate that feedback with rigorous testing before moving onto your next sprint and completing the project.
The end of the workflow process involves ending work on the development of a software.
The Sprint development cycle
While the software development cycle highlights the development process as a whole, it’s important to breakdown the Agile development workflow for each sprint.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of the Agile development workflow for each sprint:
First, clearly define the deliverables for each sprint (iteration) based on your product backlog.
Next, start to design and develop your sprint’s backlog items.
Rigorously test your backlog items and document your progress.
Deliver your backlog items to your customer base for the final stage of testing.
Document and accept feedback from your customers and stakeholders. Finish working on their suggestions before you move on to your next sprint.
👉 Learn about the difference between Agile & Scrum!
How to create an Agile workflow
Here’s a simple four-step process to create your own Agile development workflow.
First, your team has to understand the principles of Agile and adopt the right Agile practices.
Ensuring that you thoroughly go over these Agile practices is essential as it’ll make it easier for them to adapt to the new workflow.
Focus on these three things in this stage:
- Implementing and understanding the Agile specialty roles
- Going over Agile events like daily standups, sprint planning and sprint retrospectives
- Understanding the various Agile principles and the rationale behind implementing them
It’s going to help you avoid this as your project progresses:
Now, start developing your product backlog and dividing the backlog items into sprints.
Involve your team in this sprint planning process as they’ll be the ones executing it. Ensure that your sprints are realistic and you’re not trying to do too much in a short timeframe.
It’s also a good way to figure out what your team is comfortable with. This way, it’ll be far easier to define their team roles.
Start defining the team roles at this stage. You’ll have to assign different team members to different sprints and define what they’ll be working on in each sprint.
For most Agile projects, you’ll have to select:
- A product owner – who communicates with your customers and relays their feedback to your team
- A project manager – who receives the information from the product owner and guides your project team
- Your project team – who actually works on the projects
- The project stakeholders – people who aren’t actively involved in working on a project but whose inputs are valuable. These can be senior managers, marketers, salespeople, etc
Note: The roles you create will depend on the Agile methodology you choose.
For example, if you’re adopting the scrum approach, you’ll need to appoint a scrum master. Similarly, when you’re comparing Lean and Agile, your team setup might be different. The same goes for adopting Kanban project management or any other Agile frameworks.
The goal is to create a team that’s right for the kind of methodology you’re using.
This is the Agile working phase.
Remember to follow the principles of the Agile Manifesto in this stage and aim for continuous improvement over your development activities. Also remember to conduct daily standups to keep a check on any developments.
Once your team has worked on their sprint’s backlog items, let the product owner present it to your customers. The owner will relay the customer’s feedback – which your team can start working on immediately.
Once your team has completed working on the customer feedback, you can conduct an agile sprint review before moving on to the next sprint.
Repeat this process until all your sprints and deliverables have been completed!
Bonus tip: use the right workflow tools
If you really want to enjoy the benefits of Agile, you’ll need to use the right project workflow tools.
Agile workflow tools centralize all your Agile project activities – making it far easier for you to manage everything.
A good Agile development tool will:
- Document your product backlog
- Plan your sprints
- Facilitate team collaboration
How to implement an Agile workflow with ClickUp
Implementing Agile workflow management is far easier once you’ve got the right project management tool.
Luckily, Agile workflow management is what ClickUp was built for.
ClickUp is one of the world’s highest-rated Agile tools. It’ll help you implement the principles of Agile to manage your tasks and sprints effectively.
Here’s a quick breakdown of ClickUp’s features:
1. Manage different Agile frameworks with multiple views
As Agile is all about adapting to changes, your project management tool needs to be adaptable too!
Instead of using rigid management tools that force you to adapt to their interface, ClickUp gives you multiple views that adapt to your team’s Agile frameworks.
Additionally, unlike other Agile tools, you can switch between views in the same project!
Here’s a closer look at these views:
1) Required Task Views
ClickUp has two required task views to adapt to two popular Agile development approaches:
A. Board View
If you’re a fan of Kanban based development methods, this is the view for you.
Here’s how you use this Kanban view for Agile Development
This Kanban board interface helps you quickly move items around to keep up with the Agile process.
B. List View
This is the perfect view for fans of GTD-style to-do lists. Here, your tasks are listed down in a simple checklist that can be checked off as you progress.
Here’s how you use this view for Agile Project Management
Use this view to keep track of your sprint lists. As your backlog items are listed down sequentially, you tackle them easily.
2) Box View
The Box view is a great view for workflow management. It gives you a high-level overview of all your current tasks.
Here’s how you use this view for Agile Development
Use this view for high-level views of your project activities. As each sprint’s tasks are sorted by assignee, a project manager can quickly identify who’s working on what.
3) Calendar View
ClickUp’s Calendar view helps you quickly plan and manage your work schedule and sprints. You can view all your upcoming tasks to quickly prepare for them.
Here’s how you use this view for Agile Development
Use this view to carefully plan your upcoming sprints and identify when you can add items from your backlog.
You can even toggle between calendar views for added flexibility:
- Days: To view project tasks scheduled on a given date
- 4-Days: To view scheduled tasks over a rolling four day period
- Week: For your weekly sprint schedule
- Monthly: For your project roadmap for the next month
4) Me Mode
ClickUp’s “Me” mode will only highlight comments, subtasks and task lists that are assigned to you. This minimizes distractions – helping you focus better on your deliverables.
2. Track your sprints with sprint lists
Here’s how you keep track of your sprints in ClickUp:
ClickUp can add checklists to all your projects, tasks and subtasks. This helps you create sprint lists that can break down the deliverables for each sprint. You can easily check these items off as you progress and move on to the next iteration.
You can even add Scrum points to each list to keep a check of your product backlog items.
Additionally, a scrum manager can use these checklists as references when discussing developments during their scrum meetings.
3. Visually keep track of your progress with Dashboards
ClickUp’s Dashboards are perfect for high-level overviews of all your Agile projects. Simply add your sprint lists and tasks to these Dashboards to see how things are going.
Here’s a closer look at what you can track:
ClickUp’s velocity charts help you track the completion rate of your tasks. Tasks are broken down into weekly or bi-weekly intervals and their average velocity is displayed.
Additionally, ClickUp automatically groups your Sprint List data to make it easier to add to each chart!
ClickUp’s burndown charts help you track how well you’re doing against a target line. It highlights how much work is still left to be done.
Here’s what each release burndown chart highlights:
- Target progress: The ideal pace needed to meet your deadlines
- Projected progress – Your current progress rate based on tasks currently completed
- Active – The actual number of tasks you’ve completed
Burnup charts highlight what’s been completed against your remaining scope.
This helps you view what you’ve accomplished so far to motivate your team to the finish line.
D. Cumulative Flow Charts
Cumulative flow charts help you visualize and track project progress over time. As tasks are colored based on their status, you can easily see where things are and identify bottlenecks quickly!
4. Encourage project communication with comment sections
Each ClickUp task comes with its own dedicated comment section to help your team exchange files and ideas. You can even tag team members to quickly share project updates to keep everyone informed.
Additionally, ClickUp can integrate with tons of communication software like Slack and Skype to further streamline your communication!
5. Keep your Agile team engaged with assigned comments
Is your team taking too long to take action on your project comments?
ClickUp’s Assigned Comments let you convert a comment into a task and instantly assign it to a team member. They’ll be notified of this and it’ll even pop-up in their task tray to get them started immediately.
Once they’re done with it, they can even mark the comment as resolved to eliminate any needless follow-ups.
This project management tool also gives you helpful features like:
- ClickUp Task Priorities – to tackle the most important tasks and subtasks first
- Dependencies – to attempt your tasks in the right order
- ClickUp Gantt chart view – use ClickUp’s Gantt chart to track your project’s progress easily. ClickUp’s Gantt chart can even calculate your critical path instantly
- Docs – to create comprehensive documentation for your company and projects
- Detailed reporting and insights – for breakdowns of how your team and company is doing
- A Native Time Tracker – for better time management
- Powerful iOS and Android mobile apps – to manage projects even when you’re on the move
Implementing an Agile workflow doesn’t have to be difficult!
Just follow the steps we listed here to help your team get started immediately. And as you can’t implement an Agile workflow without the right Agile tools, why not try out ClickUp today?
It has all the features you need to effectively manage your product backlog, sprints and project teams!