Introduction To Agile for SMBs - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

12:00 AM
Sean McGrath
Sean McGrath
Event Updates
Connect Directly

Introduction To Agile for SMBs

Just because your company is small doesn't mean it's following the principles--or gaining the benefits--of Agile development.

Nina Bjornstad, Country Manager at Google for Work, UK&I, will be presenting Building an Agile Business by Transforming IT at Interop London in June. Interop London will take place 16 - 18 June at ExCeL London. Find out more and register here. Interop London

In February 2001, seventeen software developers gathered at a ski resort in Utah to discuss the evolution of software development methods.

Dissatisfied by traditional development processes, this group sought an alternative vision.

The result of those discussions was the Agile manifesto, now known the world over.

In a few simple sentences that outlined a set of common ideas, this small group of programmers fundamentally redefined how businesses develop software.

The manifesto reads:

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

               Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

               Working software over comprehensive documentation

               Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

               Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

This almost poetic description of the Agile ethos has had a profound impact on how software is developed. To understand why, it’s important to know what came before it: the waterfall model.

The waterfall model is a sequential approach to development and is very much a top-down way of working. There is one goal, and that is to produce a finished piece of software. Team leaders shoulder much of the responsibility, signing off each stage of work from conception right through to implementation.

While this approach provided clear organizational control, it often resulted in software projects that were over budget and/or over deadline.

It also did not account for the ever-changing needs of both the user and the market. By the time a piece of software went out the door, the world around it may have changed ten times over.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Agile. Agile is a time-boxed, iterative approach to software development. Rather than working directly towards an end goal, Agile works in sprints. The output of each sprint is working code that can be used to respond to changing user requirements.

Instead of a top-down model, Agile calls for a tightly integrated team, where developers, testers, project managers, and the customer all work towards a common goal, collaborating daily. Open communication is key, with everyone involved able to provide feedback quickly.

Agile is about anticipating change and building strategic and operational flexibility into the development process to adapt to change in real time.

Small Does Not Mean Agile

One might assume that small and medium-size businesses practice Agile by default. Smaller companies will have fewer employees involved in a project, people at SMBs are identified by their names rather than their roles, and the structure of the business tends to be much flatter.

In theory, SMBs can easily adapt to change because they aren’t as tied down by multiple layers of bureaucracy and red tape.

And yet despite this inherent agility, many small businesses are far from Agile. While Agile may seem like a methodology designed for large companies to act like small ones, the reality is that SMBs need to pursue the philosophy with equal vigor if they are to survive in these times of constant change.

Interop London logo (small)Learn more about building an Agile business by attending Interop London this June. Find out more here.

Sean McGrath is a freelance IT writer, researcher, and journalist. He has written for PC Pro, the BBC, and TechWeekEurope, and has produced content for a range of private organizations. Although he holds a first class degree in investigative journalism, his dreams of being a ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
This new report from InformationWeek explores what we've learned over the past year, critical trends around ITOps and SecOps, and where leaders are focusing their time and efforts to support a growing digital economy. Download it today!
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

How SolarWinds Changed Cybersecurity Leadership's Priorities
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  5/26/2021
How CIOs Can Advance Company Sustainability Goals
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  5/26/2021
IT Skills: Top 10 Programming Languages for 2021
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  5/21/2021
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll