What could your business tackle with an agile squad?

Written by Jake Waller

Jake is a technical author with a wealth of experience helping people from companies, charities and governmental departments understand new trends in technology.

May 17, 2021

What could your business tackle with an agile squad?

You may have heard the term ‘agile working’ being used to describe various new ways of operating. Though some may consider it a buzzword, to be treated with as much disdain as “synergy”, agile methods have a long history of delivering successful projects.

So what does agile mean as concept, and how can your business benefit from using one particular aspect of agile development, namely agile squads?

What is agile working?

Agile working is about finding the most effective and appropriate way of carrying out a task, whether that’s a long-term project or a small assignment. Employees aren’t restricted by how a task must be achieved and can instead focus on completing it.

An agile working environment allows a business to be proactive and adapt quickly to change. It combines processes, connectivity, and flexibility, and encourages employee innovation and autonomy.

Spotify’s agile working model

Many organisations have adopted agile working into their business strategies. Spotify is one of them and has seen huge success from it.

Spotify now has 30 agile squads across four cities in three different time zones. Each squad is designed to operate and feel like its own start-up, with 6-12 employees.

Squads manage and organise themselves, allowing each to work freely yet productively, but are also assigned a coach who helps improve how they work. And, whilst each has a long-term mission, how squads achieve this is up to them.

Together, these squads form larger tribes which enable different teams to coordinate and work together to achieve combined goals.

Agile squad principles you can apply to your business

Agile working improves productivity, innovation, and happiness at work, which can help a business to increase customer satisfaction and profit.

You can apply these principles to your business to develop and promote an agile working culture.

Increase flexibility

Whilst being able to work wherever and whenever is significant, flexibility around working processes is more important. Agile squads carry out tasks in the most effective way possible and this means ditching layers of management checks and offering more fluidity in job roles.

Improve transparency and autonomy

Trusting people to do their job is the secret to success. Self-management is a great way to show trust, and also improves employee engagement and satisfaction.

Having transparency around work is important for building confidence. Employees need to feel like it’s okay to make mistakes and ask for feedback.

Decentralising decision making helps to shift responsibility and allow more ownership of work. This helps create better project outcomes by prioritising speed.

Encourage a shift in behaviours

Your business needs to be ready for change for the agile working model to be successful. For example, if managers are unable to accept less involvement, then the benefits of agile working won’t be realised.

Simply restructuring will not be enough. Attitudes need to be progressive and forward thinking from the top down of your organisation if you want to really see a difference.

Solving problems using agile squads

With these principles in mind, what problems could your business’s agile working help to tackle?

New trends come and go very quickly, and it’s a tough job for manufacturers to keep up with demand. Often, by the time a product has been approved, a client is asking for something new. Agile squads can help with rapid prototyping of new products, especially as demand changes.

The current pandemic showed the importance of being reactive to changing circumstances, with 93% of business units utilising agile principles outperforming those that stuck with more traditional approaches.

With smaller, more dedicated teams working on one product rather than a part of several, employees are more invested and offer more innovative solutions. The manufacturing process is sped up because expert staff have the freedom to achieve tasks faster without distractions or the constant back and forth of processes that span larger areas and teams.

Likewise, in the fast-moving world of consumer finance, companies often want to develop and release new financial products rapidly to gain a competitive edge in the crowded industry.

Development of a user-ready app might normally take weeks or months to complete, but by setting up a focused agile squad to handle the task, complete with all the expertise needed to ensure implementation, that time can be drastically reduced.

The squad acts like a start-up, managing itself and avoiding the delays that would be caused by having to work with other parts of the larger business. Typically, these interactions could introduce delays through time zone differences, approval processes, external testing, or simply red tape.

Embrace agile squads today

As you can see, businesses can receive great benefits from creating a more agile working culture. Although it requires investment and acceptance from staff, the end results may be worth it for your business.

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