In Agile development, a stakeholder is anyone outside the development team with a support in the success of the project. If you are a stakeholder, knowledge of Agile will help you understand how the project will be developed and managed, when you can expect to see progress, and what the team needs from you in order to deliver their best work. Understanding these basic concepts and what your role entails are essential to your project’s success. If you work in an IT organization that seek to run in an Agile fashion, you may have run across the challenge of getting your stakeholders — those people who you’re building solutions for inside your organization — elaborate in your work and keeping them engaged at an appropriate level.
If your business strives to be Agile, there is a chance you will run into the challenge of getting stakeholders involved and keeping them engaged. This is a common issue that is often the result of how you introduce your stakeholders to the way you seek to operate – if you even take time to introduce them at all. Agile is essentially a way of how you look at and think about knowledge work. Agile is a mindset. There are many ways sources that businesses can refer to when striving to be more Agile, but expressing these technical terms to stakeholders may not be as meaningful. Below are suggestions for how you can describe an agile mindset to those within your business for whom you are building solutions.
Ways to Agile Teams Can Engage Stakeholders
1. Encourage Early Involvement
Involving all stakeholders early in your product development attempt establishes a precedent that their involvement is both expected and important. To support this idea, invite them to requirements discussions, such as story mapping and story writing sessions. Their attendance will give them a sense of complete and make them feel more engaged with your agile team. During these sessions, ask them questions about the value of the product and seek their perspective so you can better understand how they visualize the product being used.
2. Connect the Dots & Explain Product Benefits
People pay attention to things that benefit them—but they don’t certainly have to be users of a product to benefit from it. Your stakeholders may get value from the product simply because of the value it provides to others in their organization. For example, if a product increases sales, this gives a clear benefit to the VP of Sales; however, it is equally valuable—but possibly less assumed—that increased sales will also benefit the VP of Marketing. Help stakeholders draw direct connections; the more knowledgeable they are of your product’s benefits, the more engaged they’ll be with your group.
3. Ensure Inclusion in Priority Discussions
Invite the stakeholders to participate in priority discussions, as they are an essential part of the decision-making process. In the Scrum framework, the Product Owner makes the priority decisions; but, they use multiple data points to make the best tradeoff decisions–one data point being stakeholder input. For this reason, it’s critical to protect the stakeholders remain in direct communication with the Product Owner.
4. Collaborate During Release Planning
During Release Planning, the teams responsible for building the product create a plan that form what they will likely work on for the next release. Because this involves many discussions around dependencies, risks, value delivery, and development priorities, stakeholders should be included in this event. If they are, you can be sure that they’ll feel more involved with each subsequent release.
5. Solicit Feedback during Reviews
Stakeholder feedback is invaluable, so be sure to ask for it during product review meeting such as Sprint Reviews. Listening to their feedback encourage stakeholders that their opinion is heard and valued.
High stakeholder engagement is required for building high-quality software or other complex products. By protect their action at key points during product development—from the early stages through delivery—you will benefit from their interest and input, and ultimately, deliver higher quality products.
Describing an Agile mindset
The agile mindset seems to be a mythical abstract quality that is hard to define and often glossed over in agile discussions. It is the outermost ring in the popular metaphor agile onion. The model tells us the mindset is the most powerful of the layers that make up agile. It is where ‘being agile’ comes from, rather than ‘doing agile’, which is the domain of the inner rings of the onion. But what does this really mean? The mindset is defined by just three beliefs: complexity belief, people belief, and the proactive belief
Principles of Agile in a way that can be more easily digested by everyone within an organization:
- Strive to deliver value by satisfying the needs of your customers.
- When you start out pursuing something new, you do not know everything so it is important to structure your approach in a way that you can learn as you go and adjust.
- Short feedback cycles are to be strived for so you can learn.
- Keep teams cross-functional.
- Pay attention to the people putting in the work and trust them. Offer them support as well as the environment they need.
- Remove barriers that can get in the way of collaboration for your teams so short feedback cycles can be attained.
- Determine an outcome you would like to reach and measure your success and progress based on whether you are working toward delivering the outcome.
- Stick to a pace that is sustainable. Don’t expect people to multitask or work overtime. Focus on what is most important rather than trying to juggle many things at once.
- Choose practices that are appropriate for building your product or service, only choosing the ones that allow you to learn and adapt.
- Maximize the amount of work not done with simplicity.
- Use the people who do the work to determine how they can do it based on their experience and knowledge.
- Adopt short feedback cycles to reflect on what you have done and adopt what you have learned.
The project leader facilitates discussions between stakeholders and the development team, during which user stories are generated. He needs to ensure everyone participates fully so that the stories reflect the customer’s needs.
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