Agile

Agile is a set of principles, behaviours and approaches for delivering work. Many organisations successfully operate in agile.

Understanding agile

    Agile teams are able to create, adapt and improve products and services over time. Agile embraces change and learning ‘as you go’, which can make it look unpredictable at first. In fact, agile is focused on sustainability and predictability, and requires as much discipline as other project management methods.

    Agile is about:

    • delivering products and services by focusing on outcomes
    • breaking large bodies of work into smaller chunks
    • testing, learning and iterating
    • delivering value early and often
    • making evidence-based decisions using research and data.

    Adopting agile won’t produce instant improvements in quality and efficiency. New agile teams will probably experience some discomfort and disruption. It takes practice, discipline and persistence to see results.

    Agile vs waterfall

    There are key differences between agile and waterfall (traditional project management).

    Agile

    • Uses shorter plans with multiple iterative cycles.
    • Relies on data and insights from ongoing research to inform the right solution.
    • Aims for predictability through sustainable work patterns.
    • Is flexible and responsive to changes and new information.
    • Delivers benefits continually through smaller releases.

    Waterfall

    • Involves extensive upfront planning.
    • Solutions are identified before the start of the project.
    • Tries to predict how and when projects will be completed.
    • Relies on sequential activities happening on a strict timeline.
    • Benefits are realised at the end of the project.

    Choose the right methodology for the work you are doing. For digital products and services, agile is usually best.

    Getting started with agile

    Set a vision

    Set up multidisciplinary teams who share one goal: creating great services for users.

    Keep things simple

    Limit work in progress, re-use work across teams and reduce waste.

    Develop the mindset

    Support agile ways of working, champion them and protect your teams from distractions.

    Expect change

    Support teams to use research to iterate designs and fix problems

    Encourage continuous improvement

    Establish short feedback loops so teams can learn fast, apply new thinking and work better.

    Ask good questions

    At sprint reviews or showcases ask your teams:

    • What problem is this solving?
    • What is the value to our user(s)?
    • How have our assumptions changed?
    • What have we learned?

    Resources for agile in government

    Learn more about agile with the following links.  

    Join our agile community

    You'll find more resources, advice and support in the Digital Profession's Agile and Lean Community. It's an open and safe space to connect with peers, share experiences, ask questions and help solve common problems.