Ever spent longer on planning a project and all its parts than completing the actual tasks themselves?
With an Agile workflow, you can work quickly and efficiently to deliver and improve a project or product, whether that product is an email marketing tool, an Instagram ad campaign, or even a shoe.
In this article, we’ll teach you exactly how to create a step-by-step Agile workflow and how to adapt it to your company and projects.
What is an Agile workflow?
Agile workflow is a way of completing a project by dividing different tasks into units called iterations. In Agile, teams work on specific tasks for a certain amount of time termed as ‘Sprints’. An Agile workflow can therefore be defined as the workflow made up of the distinct set of stages involved in completing a project or product, from ideation to completion.
A traditional project management workflow follows a single, stage-by-stage process. Agile teams divide the project into sprints usually lasting 2–4 weeks instead.
This is what makes the process Agile—you can quickly adapt your priorities and focus based on insights gleaned from one sprint to the next.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly what sets the Agile workflow apart.
Agile workflow vs. Waterfall: what makes Agile different
When most people think of a workflow, the Waterfall model is often what comes to mind.
Unlike the Waterfall method where clearly defined stages happen in sequential order, from initial planning to execution to implementation, with the Agile workflow, you instead combine the most pressing features into an iteration and tackle it with a sprint.
The big difference is that after delivering a finished product iteration, you go back to analyzing requirements. So instead of assessing requirements once at the beginning, you’re doing it every few weeks. This allows you to quickly address any potential issues that arise as you add new functionality.
This adaptability is the key to the success of Agile teams. Only 8% of Agile projects fail, versus 21% of waterfall projects.
What are the 5 stages of the Agile life cycle?
In product and software development, teams tend to work with a life cycle of production. You can divide the Agile development process into the following 5 life cycle stages:
1) Conception: scope and roadmap your project
Plan and envision the scope and roadmap of your project. At this stage, you start developing the overall product backlog (list of features and requirements) and start figuring out how to divide the project into sprints.
2) Initiation: create your sprint teams and assign outcomes
Agile teams are complete, with all the skill sets needed to take the project from requirements to production. That also goes for specific technical expertise.
For example, a sprint team focused on the mobile app of your main SaaS product would need experts on mobile UX, Swift, Java, APIs, and more.
3) Iteration: create a new iteration with a sprint
In this stage, the entire sprint happens. It starts with each team reviewing product backlogs and deciding on what to do during this sprint. Then the actual work is done and testing the new iteration (client deliverable) occurs.
4) Release: make the sprint iteration public
After a product increment is completed and tested in the sprint review, it’s time to take your new iteration public.
It’s important to listen to public feedback during the first few weeks of release so you know what changes should go into the next version.
5) Retirement: replace with the next iteration
The final step takes place after the next iteration is ready. Depending on the size of the update, you can simply replace the last version with an update, or phase it out in multiple stages.
For example, letting users choose to still use the old interface for a set period.
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Agile workflows aren’t just for your software development team though. Design, manufacturing, and marketing teams can also use the Agile method to work faster.
How to create and implement an Agile workflow for your project
Transitioning from Waterfall to Agile can be challenging at first. But we’re here to make it a little easier.
That, and create an intuitive and visual project management tool and Work OS, of course.
Flexible project management software like monday.com can help you through the process. Our Work OS makes it easier to collaborate and helps your teams self-organize.
1) Collectively learn and internalize the Agile methodology
You can’t go Agile by making one small team apply the method.
It’s not enough for the manager or business owner to read The Agile Manifesto once. Everybody on the team has to learn and internalize the Agile principles for it to work. No one should be left wondering why you are doing this, including all your stakeholders.
Take advantage of employees who have experience running an Agile project. Arrange meetings where they can explain the Agile approach to other team members.
It’ll transform how you work. By prioritizing working software or product iterations, your teams could ship much faster.
2) Choose a framework
Choose a framework to help you implement the Agile workflow in practice.
Agile is the mindset, and it transforms your design thinking and how you approach projects. An Agile framework is a blueprint for putting it into practice.
Explore different frameworks, and evaluate how they align with your company. Consider company size, number of projects, team sizes, and more.
Over 76% of Agile companies use Scrum or variants like ScrumBan (a mix of Scrum and Kanban).
3) Develop a project roadmap and assign requirements to Agile teams
Your product or project manager should still plan the scope for the long term. But an Agile roadmap is more strategic and high-level than a complete recipe.
Instead of specific features and outputs, focus on outcomes. For example, a user being able to complete a task on the mobile app.
Our project roadmap template can help get you started.
Then, work with stakeholders to prioritize the items and start defining timelines. The goal isn’t to be perfect, but to provide an Agile structure for the project to take place.
monday.com also makes it easy to confirm outcomes and timelines with stakeholders in real-time.
With a roadmap in place, it’s time to start moving. Get familiar with Agile roles and establish different Agile teams responsible for different project outcomes.
4) Create and maintain a product backlog
Once you’ve created an Agile structure, teams, and a roadmap, it’s time to get your hands dirty.
Work with your stakeholders and teams to create a complete backlog. A product backlog is the Scrum term for a list of every feature and functionality the finished product should have.
Other frameworks use slightly different language (i.e., To-Do list in Kanban, Program backlog in SAFe, etc.) but it amounts to the same thing.
To create the backlog, break down your primary outcomes from the roadmap into discrete features, requirements, or tasks your team must complete.
These are often written as user stories. (A user story is a work item describing a feature or set of features from the user’s perspective.)
You can use our feature backlog template to get started easily.
5) Plan your first iterations and sprints
Once you have your product backlog and Agile teams in place, it’s time to get started with planning your first iteration.
Exactly how you plan and implement it depends on the framework you chose. If you went with Scrum, use our step-by-step guide to implementing Agile project management with Scrum.
Start your Agile process seamlessly
An Agile workflow won’t just help your team deliver faster, it will also keep you aligned with what your customers need.
The end result is a product that exceeds customer expectations, created on a faster timeline.
If you’re ready to jump in, our Agile planning template makes starting your first sprint easy.
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