Kanban to Stand-ups: The 3 Tools of Agile Teams That Everyone Can Benefit From

Curious what Agile has to offer? Here are 3 tools that teams outside of Agile should consider adopting too.

What's interesting about Agile tools is that other departments can often benefit from them too.

The question is: which tools should you move to the top of the list and consider implementing in other areas aside from software development?

Today, we're going to look at 3 that are worth special mention.

Kanban

Did you know that Kanban translates from the Japanese word for ’’card you can see’’? This speaks to the value of Kanban as it uses cards to visualize the progress of tasks so that everyone involved can see what’s happening.

Kanban is a popular framework for managing the workflow for an individual, team, or even a whole project. It creates transparency with projects as tasks move between statuses. Having 3 stages—to do, doing, and done—is a straightforward way to get started with Kanban.

However, you can adapt these stages very easily to suit different workflows. In the Planisware content team, we have 7 stages: not started, up next, in progress 25%, in progress 50%, in progress 75% and completed.

Other benefits of Kanban include:

  • Increased flexibility (you can create your own stages, and reassess priorities on the fly)
  • Reduced waste (you spend less time following up on tasks because you can see the progress of each task in real-time)
  • Greater output (it quickly surfaces blocked tasks)

Kanban is such a versatile tool that you can deploy it in nearly any department. Here is one example of how it can be used in sales to visualize prospects moving through the pipeline.

If you go to episode 2 of our mini-series on product development, you can find out more about using Kanban for team task tracking with our platform.

Stand Up Meetings

Eighty-seven percent of Agile teams use stand-up meetings. Why? Well, it's a great way to ensure everyone is aligned around the correct priorities and to resolve any challenges that team members face quickly and efficently (when possible). The format also has the benefit of information sharing, as well as providing the opportunity to find common issues between team members and solve them collectively.

Indeed, stand-up meetings bring many perks. For example, it encourages team building and collaboration by bringing people together regularly. It also improves group commitment toward shared goals.

Stand up meetings have the potential to bring focus to teams in all areas of your business. For example, it's great for a fast-moving marketing team looking to stay on top of multiple simultaneous projects.

Here are some tips to make your stand-up meetings a success:

  • Schedule meetings. Daily (or at least regular) meetings held at the same time will provide routine and structure.
  • Keep things short. 15 minutes is a good rule of thumb. Always try to stick to specific stop times to keep things concise.
  • Set an agenda. To keep things running smoothly, go through a similar process each time. This can be whatever works for your group, but might include team member challenges and sharing updates on progress.

Retrospectives

Like a Swiss Army knife, Agile comes with plenty of tools. And, another one that's worth mentioning is the retrospective. Here, a team looks back on a completed block of work and reviews progress. Typically, this will include 3 components:

  1. Actions to start taking
  2. Actions to stop taking
  3. Actions which should continue.

Specifically, retrospectives bring benefits which include:

  • Giving space for team members to share frustrations
  • Encouraging solution finding, so problems don't occur again
  • Showing team leaders how staff work together and what their strengths are
  • Learning from past mistakes and developing the team's collective skills with each new project.

As you would expect, any department would benefit from this—whether it's an HR team trying to reduce staff churn, or a sales team trying to enter a new market. For example, an HR team might discover in a retrospective that one recruitment website they post job listings to tends to receive the lowest quality of applicants. They might then decide to discontinue posting on this website.

Companies that have embraced this approach in their sales and marketing teams have seen almost immediate improvement in sales performance and productivity.

- Ori Yankelev, VP of sales, Own Backup