By Felicia Pinter, Lead Project Manager

One of the most exciting parts of being a project manager is introducing new ways of delivering services. Just recently, I had the opportunity to start an Agile group for a client; below I share an overview of how to effectively start an Agile team given my experience.

Preparing a team who heavily executes projects in Waterfall to switch to Agile takes some planning. You know your IT leader and Project Sponsor are open to this idea, but are they and the team really ready?

As for this, I am informally taking the Prosci approach and focusing on individual change. “Individual change management means understanding how one person successfully makes a change.”

Starting the Change
According to Prosci, “Organizations don’t change, individuals do. No matter how large of a project you are taking on, the success of that project ultimately lies with each individual doing their work differently, multiplied across all individual impacted by the change.”

ADKAR®, a simple but effective model, works well.

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to participate in and support the change
  • Knowledge on how to change
  • Ability to implement require skills and behaviors
  • Reinforcement to sustain the change

Begin onboarding the team on Agile delivery and prepare the tool to be used. However, it does not stop there. “Awareness” is one thing, but getting that desire is the biggest part. While the team and management have the “Desire” to change, anxiety may still be high. Some questions that may come up include:

  • Will the team have time for daily stand-up, planning, demo, retrospective?
  • What does ‘no role’ mean? People have specific skills!
  • How can we demo if our stage environment is very controlled?
  • Releases are always controlled. How will it impact our releases?

It’s important to meet with the IT Leader and Project Sponsor to explain the benefits of this change, how it is both aligned and different from the old way, and how they can help the project team. Transparency and trust are key to keep things moving forward. (To my surprise and advantage, without even asking, I was given the Engineering Lead as an Agile champion for the team. Yay!)

Having an Agile champion is a big plus as they are the direct link to the IT Leader and Project Sponsor who will be relying on the Agile team for success. They are the ally to support this change. Work with the champion to review the plan for transitioning the team to agile, answer their questions, review and revise some assumptions, and set up clearer targets/goals on how to help the team to adapt and embrace the change. By doing this there will be more “Knowledge” to share with the team, making the transition more welcomed. And by working with management and Agile champion, they will be ready to gain their “Ability” to implement this change.

This will be a journey for any team. In my case, a journey that started well and I am very excited to see the adaption as we progress and look forward to “Reinforcing” the value and sustaining our Agile team.