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4 Expert Agile Tips for Startups

Running an agile startup is an art form. Agile has twelve core principles that serve as an excellent jumping off point for ambitious entrepreneurs.

The twelve agile principles call for the continuous development of usable software; welcoming change; the cooperation of business people and developers; self-organizing teams; face-to-face meetings; working software as the primary measure of progress; consistent pace; attention to technical excellence; reducing workloads and conducting project retrospectives.

The principles are malleable, easily augmented, manipulated, or warped. Every company that adopts the agile approach does so in a unique -- but not always beneficial -- way.

To ensure that your startup is employing the agile project management methodology correctly, use these 4 expert agile tips:

1. Communicate openly and often

Agile project management starts and ends with transparent collaboration. Agile teams survive rounds of project cycles and changes by being honest, open, and direct in a structured and productive way.

The Manifesto for Agile Software Development calls for face time with team members on a weekly basis. The creators of agile, the divergent software professionals that reshaped software development, averred that that face-to-face communication is the best way to relay information.

Agile team members do not hide behind memos or bury each other with easily misplaced emails. Agile teams that thrive meet as a collective and concisely hash out any comments, concerns, questions, or updates in a personal, collaborative manner.

2. Embrace change at every stage

Disliking change is natural. Agile teams are powered by the change, however. Startups that wish to embrace agile truly must also embrace change at every stage of development. It's vital to avoid scope creep or to change requirements too rapidly or rashly, but, that being said, change is necessary for agile startups to succeed.

At the heart of agile is an unabashed enthusiasm for exploration, for improvement, for innovation. Innovating within a highly competitive space requires a drastic commitment to adapting swiftly.

Adapting to changes stemming from the client, customer, or company requires a company culture that emphasizes leveraging change in favor of remaining steadfast with a predetermined plan.

3. Hire experienced agile project managers

You may have a batch of unbeatable coders at the ready. Still, nothing can replace an experienced agile project manager. This is especially true for young companies that are in a very fragile stage of development. Startups require expert agile project managers to help them create value generative products.

There's no reason to gamble the success of your product. Hiring experienced project managers are essential for inexperienced teams and young companies. Without the gentle yet firm guidance of a professional agile project manager, a great idea could be lost in development limbo, then disappear altogether. Don't let cost-effective project management solutions cost your startup its first product.

Invest in a project manager with several years of experience who can stomach the ups and downs concomitant with software development.

4. Engage with potential customers

Agile development is an iterative process. This means that development happens in cycles: discuss goals, assign tasks, create or tweak working software, review the last cycle, and repeat. There is a critical point between cycles: the review period. This is the project retrospective where the next cycles goals will be ironed out.

To improve with every cycle, teams have to rely on more than just their input and analysis. Agile startups need to engage with customers and gather data from them.

Release a working version of your software application and see how a set of users respond to it. Take their input seriously and tweak your software requirements appropriately.


Agile development can be accomplished in myriad ways. Agile is only a loose set of guidelines that can help you form a culture for your startup that promotes productivity, improvement, and collaboration. You can choose to put a particular emphasis on some principles and lessen the impact of others -- you'll likely find out which principles are most useful to you during development.

Using agile to its fullest potential can be done quickly. By following a few simple tips, you can better your chances of leveraging agile principles in the most beneficial way possible.

Agile project management takes a great deal of time and dedication to master. As your startup grows, your project management strategies will strengthen and mature. To be sure, persistent experimentation, constructive criticism, and transparent communication will undoubtedly propel your agile startup further.


About the Author

Paul Sciglar is a columnist interested in international policies and economic affairs. Certified Accountant with broad experience in strategic analysis, FP&A, investment banking, and investment management. You may connect with him on Twitter.

Published Wednesday, January 23, 2019 7:45 AM by David Marshall
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