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Crystal Agile Methodology in Project Management 9 min read
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As a business leader, you no doubt know that no two projects are alike. This is especially true when it comes to software development. Subsequently, you can’t expect the step-by-step project management process you use for one project to necessarily work for all others. In some cases, you may need a project management style that’s more flexible and adaptive to the specific needs of your team and project. This is where the Crystal agile methodology can help.

Learn what Crystal agile is, why it’s a valuable project management tool, and how our Work OS, templates, and forms can help you create an effective agile strategy.

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What is Crystal agile?

Unlike more traditional methodologies, Crystal agile prioritizes interactions, people, skills, talents, and communication over processes and tools.

While this business practice still values the importance of processes and tools, it considers interactions between team members to be more valuable. Crystal in agile methodology can be broken down into various color groups based on team size. For example:

  • Crystal clear: Teams of six or fewer employees
  • Crystal yellow: Teams between 7 and 20 employees
  • Crystal orange: Teams between 21 and 40 employees
  • Crystal red: Teams between 41 and 80 employees
  • Crystal maroon: Teams between 81 and 200 employees
  • Crystal diamond and Crystal sapphire: For larger projects

While Crystal agile lacks formal structure, it’s still based on a set of seven basic properties that teams should adhere to in order to maximize its potential.

  1. Frequent delivery: Teams should release new projects and test codes frequently, on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis, depending on the scope of the project.
  2. Reflective improvement: Teams should hold reflective workshops every few weeks to discuss ways to improve their processes and tools.
  3. Consistent communication: For smaller groups, osmotic communication is best. This is where all team members work together in one room. For larger groups, a closed-loop form of communication is recommended to ensure all team members have the right information.
  4. Personal safety: It’s crucial to create a safe environment where all team members feel free to express their opinions and suggestions without fear of rebuke or retaliation.
  5. Focus: All team members should have a clear understanding of the overall project goals as well as their specific tasks.
  6. Easy access to expert users: The team as a whole should have access to an expert in areas pertaining to the project. This expert should be available to answer questions and provide guidance to the team as necessary.
  7. Technical tooling: This includes the tools the team uses during configuration and testing to identify program errors as early in the development process as possible so that any necessary adjustments can be made in a timely manner.

The Crystal agile methodology has been around for decades and was developed by one of the leading technology companies in the world. Let’s take a look at its history.

History of the Crystal methodology

While working for IBM in 1991, computer scientist Alistair Cockburn noticed that projects varied so much that traditional step-by-step methodologies weren’t always suitable. This inspired him to develop the Crystal agile, which is based on two key principles:

  • Teams can optimize workflow: Team members can and should work together to develop the optimal workflow process for each project.
  • All projects are unique: Since all projects are unique and constantly changing, the tools and processes needed vary project by project. It should therefore be up to a project’s team to determine which methodologies to use.

Cockburn notes that teams can develop their own processes based on their unique needs. The Crystal methodology is not only agile and adaptive; it’s also considered ultra-light as it requires little in the way of reporting or other types of documentation. Its adaptive qualities are one of the many reasons it’s become important in project management.

Why the Crystal agile methodology is important in project management

Crystal agile is becoming an increasingly popular tool in project management due to its fast-paced delivery functions. The agile methodology within the project management scheme works by breaking stages of the development process into short segments referred to as sprints. The development team uses feedback from real-time users, customers, and other stakeholders during each sprint to make adjustments in the next stage as necessary.

Considering the fast-paced nature of today’s economies and fluctuating consumer demands, it’s easy to appreciate the benefits of the Crystal agile methodology. A development team using a standard project management process might, for example, take six months or more to deliver a final product. By the time the project is ready to test, it could already be outdated, having cost the company a great deal of unnecessary time and money.

The Crystal agile methodology avoids this issue by frequently testing products throughout the development process and by incorporating feedback to meet changing consumer demands or take advantage of new advancements in technology. This management methodology can enhance efficiencies, save money, and improve project outcomes. Despite its wide range of benefits, however, it’s not the right methodology for every type of project.

When the Crystal agile methodology should be used

The flexible and adaptive nature of the Crystal agile methodology makes it a tempting option for many companies. However, it’s important to note that this methodology is not right for all companies or for all projects. Rather, this management style is best suited to short-term projects that require the rapid delivery of products. It can also work well for long-term projects that require frequent testing and feedback.

Additionally, given the Cystal agile methodology requires little to no documentation, constant communication between team members is crucial. It may therefore not be a suitable methodology for virtual or remote teams that struggle to keep members connected. On the contrary, this project management style works best when team members are working together in the same main location. In fact, for Crystal clear teams, it’s even more beneficial to have teams working in the same room.

To better understand exactly how the Crystal agile methodology works, let’s take a look at it in action.

Examples of the Crystal agile methodology

The most popular example of the Crystal agile methodology is the development of IBM’s Orange platform, which was developed to help companies maintain compliance and security over their technological devices, such as servers, desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices. Cockburn developed this strategy in response to the need for fast product delivery, close communication, and frequent testing, feedback, and modification.

This methodology is also ideal for app development where small teams are involved. Frequent testing and user input allow teams to identify errors early on in the developmental phase, which not only helps the company save money but also speeds up the delivery time. Additionally, osmotic or close communication is crucial for this type of development process.

While Crystal agile is considered a lightweight methodology, it still requires the use of effective communication and reporting tools.

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How helps you organize a Crystal agile framework?

Despite the fact that Crystal agile requires very little reporting and documentation, the team still needs an effective way to identify tasks and manage data.

In fact, it can help your company organize a Crystal agile framework in several ways through:

  • Cross-functional collaboration: Our Work OS provides one convenient location to store and manage team communication. This tool can ensure all team members stay up to date throughout the software development process.
  • The collection of user feedback: Our Customer Feedback Tracker allows your team to track user feedback to better identify programming issues and user complaints.
  • Bug identification: Not only do our WorkForms allow you to create a way for all team members to instantly report bugs within a program; our tracking reports also enable you to color-code each bug based on importance and to identify which ones have been resolved.
  • Sprint planning: Our Work OS provides a single location in which to track all tasks related to the project. As the team enters each sprint phase, they can designate specific tasks for completion.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the Crystal methodology?

The Crystal methodology is an agile framework that differs from traditional management styles in that it prioritizes team communication, interactions, skills, and talents over processes and tools. Rather than providing teams with step-by-step project management directions, this methodology allows individual teams to determine which tools and processes work best for them.

How does the agile methodology work?

The agile methodology uses seven basic principles, including frequent delivery, constant communication, and team focus. Using these principles as a loose guideline, teams have the power to develop a project management process that best meets the needs of their team and project.

How does agile in project management work?

The Crystal agile methodology works well for projects that require fast delivery. Due to the flexible and adaptive nature of this methodology, team members are able to quickly initiate changes and modifications as needed.

Could your team benefit from Crystal agile?

Given today’s fast-paced market, you may find the Crystal agile methodology to be a very effective strategy for some projects, especially those that require flexibility and adaptability. In fact, when combined with the right tools, the Crystal agile methodology can help cut costs and speed up the final delivery process.

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