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Fully Agile?! Don't make me laugh!

By Kap Ling - 01st February 2019

So, what is agile? It depends on who you ask. For me, agile is a mindset - you HAVE to be adaptable; you CANNOT be scared of failing fast; you MUST be a team player; you NEED to listen to others. I believe in following these rules, you will be on a good path to an agile way of working.

The main challenge some of our clients face is transitioning from non-agile to an agile way of working; old habits are difficult to break. So clients like the idea of agile but still find themselves working the traditional way. We address this by communicating effectively with stakeholders in each phase of the project and being flexible in our approach to suit their requirements.

For example, working with a recent client we have tailored our sprint ‘Show and Tell’ ceremony to include open discussions about the challenges and failures. This has provided the client with confidence that we are adapting to their needs and learning from our failures.

Philosophy aside, there is a lot of content out there giving you a framework to follow e.g. Scrum and Kanban. Understanding these frameworks will give you a good stepping stone to success but even more so if you can grasp the benefits from each. It will then be key to look at the product you are delivering and adapt the way you work towards it. However, as part of continuous improvement, it will be essential to review your framework regularly.

Kap doing his morning stand up with the team


How do we work with our clients?

There are steps to take to ensure our clients are receiving the best advice and outcomes. One of the first things I generally like to dispense with are the myths surrounding the word “agile”. 

Some believe “agile” means no documentation, no plan, and endless costs. In reality, agile is finding the right balance. The Agile Manifesto provides the most succinct way to explain it. It provides the following points:

  • individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • working software over comprehensive documentation
  • customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • responding to change over following a plan

The key word in the above points is ‘over’. With this approach, we assist our clients to find the right balance of their existing ‘waterfall’ methods with Zaizi’s agile approach to deliver a successful product whilst also taking into consideration our clients change transformation approach should they have one.

Some key benefits of an adapted approach with agile at the forefront are:

  • delivering working software faster and often
  • the right amount of documentation to support the right level of governance
  • regular feedback from users - delivering a product a user is happy with
  • more open and transparent about risks and issues
  • responding to lessons learned as soon as they arise
  • a plan that provides enough content for financial planning but providing realistic expectations of delivery
Kap discussing project with colleague

Setting realistic expectations

It is wrong to expect that you can successfully deliver a product by setting time, cost and scope. There has to be a variable. With this, we support our clients by:

  • guiding them through the different variables and scenarios to put them in the best position for success;
  • filling in the gaps - help them produce product visions and roadmaps
  • identifying points of failure early and learn from them
  • being open and transparent
  • tailoring show and tells for what the client needs
  • adapting to changes quickly

Serving our clients towards success

At Zaizi, we do not just put clients’ needs first but ensure they get the right support and guidance to achieve their goal. We are not scared to challenge the way things are done nor recognise where we can improve to aid delivery. 

It was put best by a current client of ours: “Zaizi went above and beyond to help us deliver.”

About the author: Kap Ling
Kap is our Head of Delivery. With over seven years of project delivery experience, Kap leads our delivery strategy and manages the whole delivery function. Kap’s other areas of expertise include agile project delivery and digital transformation. He has delivered multi-million-pound software development and digital transformation projects. As a certified Scrum Master, Agile PM Practitioner and Safe Agilist, he is a strong advocate of agile ways of working.