Startups are fast moving and always evolving entities. Their final goals often change and are sometimes vaguely defined and people in startups play multiple roles at the same time to address whatever challenge is being faced at the moment. Without a way to keep organized in such a volatile environment, startups would descend into chaos. Agile methods are perfect for startups and as they can keep up with and facilitate their rapid pace of development. It is a methodology that focuses on setting and reaching short term goals, getting fast results and then adapting strategy accordingly.
Agile methods mean Flexibility
Startups are prone to experiencing rapid growth and a strict organizational structure can limit the flexibility that startups need to survive and stay competitive. A startup needs to be able react to unexpected obstacles, but more important they need to be able to adapt to their competition and the always changing demands of the market. Traditional styles of company management are not designed to make fast changes.
Agile management ensures that both projects managers and team members will have a flexible and Agile mindset, which means that everyone is results focused and ready to adapt based on feedback. The acquisition of quick results is what makes this methodology especially interesting for startups. The focus is on delivering a usable product at the end of a sprint. Whenever the development team releases a version of a product sprint they can get customer feedback, compare the product to its competition on the market, and set the addition of new product features and improvements as a goal for the next sprint. This helps a startup stay reactive and to create a unique and quality product. This organization and adaptability can allow an Agile company to begin working on a product without a fully detailed final goal as the team and market environment will shape the product as it is being produced. Agile methods focus on Value Driven Delivery, which focuses on releasing a product that is valuable to the business in today’s market.
Never Slow Down
Another characteristic of startups is that they often run into obstacles that inhibit progress. The Agile approach also helps with this as one of the characteristics of Agility is to identify potential project impediments. Every day, members of an Agile team should discuss what they did yesterday, identify what they need to accomplish today, and identify any possible obstacles in their way. Identified obstacle will be discussed by the team and they will either find an immediate solution or focus on other tasks until the problem can be resolved so as not to lose time.
Of course it is not possible to predict every problem. Even if an unexpected problem does crop up, it can be identified and the team members can still work on another task assigned to the current sprint until a solution is found. Agile organizations use a visual task based planner that is updated in real time and shows workers which tasks need to be prioritized at which moment, so there is always more than one assignment that can be worked on at a time. The flexibility given by this adaptive planning method combined with the fact that Agile team members are self-organized and usually play multiple roles allows a startup to avoid delays and minimize their time to market.