The Agile Manifesto was published in 2001. While its principles were created by and for software development, the agile business model has infiltrated practically every industry. (And with good reason—it offers genuine benefits in terms of improving outcomes and efficiency.)
The agile business model is an approach that breaks projects down into a series of small tasks and relies on collaboration and customer input to refine and shape output. It's a flexible, fast-paced model that has continual improvement and constant progress at its core.
You may not be up on all the agile lingo, and you may not know a thing about software development, but that doesn't mean your company couldn't benefit from adopting and adapting elements of the agile business model.
Not sure where to start? I've pulled together some popular apps that can help cultivate agility in your business. Some of these apps are more explicitly agile-focused, while others simply help you take some baby steps.
I'm starting you off with a non-scary app; one that you may already use, even if you don't know the first thing about the agile business model.
Dropbox is most commonly used for data storage, but what makes it suitable for the agile process is the way it fosters collaboration. The ease with which your entire team can share, access and edit documents makes workflow more transparent. Being able to collaborate is an important component of agile companies.
2. Nextiva's NextOS
You may know Nextiva as an innovative VoIP (voice over internet protocol) provider, but with the May 2018 launch of NextOS, the company is a whole lot more.
NextOS is a unified communications platform that uses sophisticated AI and machine learning to offer a suite of tools that take business communication to a whole new level—even if your company is a small one.
With CRM (customer relationship management) tools and a database that contains every bit of client communication all in one intuitive interface, NextOS helps streamline your customers' journeys. Real-time chat and survey capabilities helps bring customer input into your process—a key component of the agile business model.
Monday is a more overtly agile app, designed to facilitate collaboration. Formerly known as Dapulse, Monday pulls together a slew of functions, like in-house chat and scheduling, into a simple, at-a-glance task board.
Color-coded sections indicate progress toward goal, and users can click on an individual task in order to comment or discuss that task with team members. Compact and customizable, Monday may be a good choice for you if you're ready to really step up your agile business model.
Trello is a big name in agile apps. It offers customizable options for keeping teams both large and small on the same page.
Having the ability to see at a glance what each member of your team is working on and where they're heading next can help you improve workflow and productivity. Reminders keep critical deadlines top-of-mind, and the variety of boards, lists and cards available are a full toolbox just waiting for you to roll up your sleeves.
An interesting side note: Trello isn't just for business; it's also useful for organizing and coordinating personal and family commitments. Free accounts make it easy for both businesses and individuals to dip a toe in a useful app that lends itself to the agile business model.
While many new apps focus on integrating boatloads of functions, in my opinion, some of the best just keep it simple. One of my new favorites is Doodle, an app that makes scheduling meetings a snap.
To get started, you send out a message that invites meeting participants to share their preferences by voting. You can ask about preferred venue, date or time, and when votes are in, you schedule the meeting.
The agile business model relies on frequent meetings that quickly and efficiently get everyone on the team up to speed and address any challenges. Busy schedules and flexible working arrangements can make scheduling a headache. Doodle simplifies the process. (Added bonus: It integrates with most calendar apps.)
6. Paper Sticky Notes
When all else fails, you can go old school! While apps like Trello and Monday are digital task boards (among other things), there are low-tech ways of moving toward an agile business model.
Terms like “scrum" and “Kanban" refer to particular approaches to managing workflow, and they both rely on boards divided into boxes to indicate phases and sections of tasks. You don't actually need a fancy app to monitor, discuss and refine workflow. A white board and some Paper sticky notes can accomplish the same goal. Particularly for folks who are a bit tech-averse, breaking a job down with paper and pencil can be a great way to field-test the agile business model.
From complex to simple (and digital to analog) there are great tools that can help you rethink and retool your approach to project management. Wonder if an agile business model is right for you? Consider taking an app for a test drive.
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