Achieving visibility in an agile environment can be challenging due to its flexible and iterative nature. There is often so much going on, how can you ensure that everyone is on the same page and stays informed of all the moving parts they need to keep track of?
The answer is to embrace the concept of agile visibility.
First up: What do we even mean by agile visibility? Visibility in the Agile at Scale sense is about being big and visible in all that you do. That means communicating across departments and teams, ensuring that different people, working on different projects, are aligned to the overall vision of the business.
That can take many forms depending on your industry, but the overall impact is clear: Visibility into project progress creates accountability, trust, and encourages communication at every stage of the workflow.
So how do we encourage visibility in our own organizations?
Define clear objectives and key results (OKRs)
While this may seem painfully obvious, the first step in big and visible communication in your organization is to actually have something locked in for people to see.
Setting clear objectives and key results (OKRs) seems simple enough, but you need to ensure everyone is aligned and involved in the process of setting their targets. However, this also means starting with objectives that are realistic and actually achievable in the given time frame.
That requires discussions with all stakeholders about their workload, their processes, and where their pain points are. From there, you can start to develop reasonable expectations for when projects can be delivered and what blockers to anticipate and plan around.
It also helps to break down the larger objectives into smaller, manageable tasks with measurable results. This helps teams stay focused on their priorities and provides a tangible way to measure progress.
Next, align your OKRs with agile sprints or iterations and create a roadmap that allows stakeholders to track and evaluate the team's performance continually. This alignment also provides an opportunity to make adjustments and course corrections as needed, improving visibility into the project's overall health and keeping your teams communicating.
Utilize agile project management tools
No matter what kind of agile methodology you are attempting, the backbone of all of them comes from selecting the right tool for your organization.
Perhaps the most important features for visibility is having tools that enable your teams to get on-demand and real-time updates on project progress, resources, and the ability to see who is assigned to what task.
But it is more than just purchasing a random selection of tools and hoping that adoption will just happen automatically. Your teams need a single and centralized place to keep their progress updates, documentation, and information.
According to Bluesoft’s State of Agile survey, the number one piece of software used by 66% of all teams is Atlassian Jira.
Systems like these make for the base foundations to build an agile workspace on. You can develop your strategy, epics, sprints, and scrums all around one shared workspace.
An example of this could be Tempo’s tool: Custom Charts. Using it, you can visualize all of your data from Jira and make it viewable on-demand by every stakeholder.
This kind of passive visibility facilitates collaboration, keeps teams organized, and forms the core of agile visibility. Without tools like these, individuals will have to keep messaging (or, perish the thought, calling) to get project updates.
There are tools for roadmapping, timesheets, budgeting, reports, and almost all parts of the standard workflow so your teams can quickly access the information they need without having to trawl through messages and permissions to get working.
Emphasize clear communication
Communication and visibility go hand in hand. For agile organizations, that means daily stand-up meetings where team members share their progress, obstacles, and upcoming tasks.
Your teams also need to have cross-team communication, meaning they have to feel they can talk to each other, and product owners and other leadership, without fear that they will get shut down or punished.
Try straight-up asking, with genuine interest, about the blockers and frustrations your teams are experiencing. Act on them, making sure their issues are being addressed, and your teams will be more open in coming forward themselves next time.
Once you have fostered an environment of collaboration where team members feel they can share ideas, issues, and progress updates, then you can catch issues long before they become major blockers for your project.
That is a kind of agile visibility that looks both ways — a transparent and open leadership that looks out for its employees so they, in turn, will be more willing to share their blockers and get them out in the open for everyone to solve.
If you are interested in more about agile communication practices, take a look at our full blog which is part of our series on understanding Agile at Scale.
Involve stakeholders throughout the process
Including stakeholders throughout the development process ensures that their expectations are managed and they have an opportunity to provide feedback.
While earlier we discussed the importance of involving people in creating their OKRs, it shouldn’t stop there. Agile methodology is an iterative process where you should be conducting regular meetings to gather input and feedback to ensure projects are still working for their stakeholders and the original goals still make sense.
By keeping stakeholders engaged, informed, and accountable, you can address any concerns early and reduce the risk of misunderstandings or misalignment later in the project. This active involvement further increases visibility as it keeps everyone thinking about the project's overall health and how it relates to their core objectives.
Visual dashboards help to keep stakeholders informed. With the right inputs they can display key agile metrics, such as cycle time, velocity, and release progress. These dashboards can be made available to all stakeholders, fostering a data-driven decision-making culture. If you want to dive deeper into agile reporting, Custom Charts has a whole section of their blog dedicated to it!
The aim is visibility at every level. Individuals see their goals and their impact in projects clearly, leadership can see progress and resources, and everyone can keep an eye on the bigger picture and feel they can have an impact on it at any point in the process. After all, what is the point of it being visible if you can do nothing about it?
Full visibility for successful agility
Achieving visibility with agile methodology requires a combination of clear communication, well-defined objectives, appropriate tools, and stakeholder involvement. By following these best practices, teams can adapt to changing requirements more effectively, optimize project outcomes, and build a successful agile environment.
In turn, this visibility leads to increased collaboration, enhanced decision-making, and ultimately, greater success in delivering valuable products and services to your customers.
Agile tools to improve the visibility of work being done
Wherever you are on your agile journey, and whatever flavor of agile you’re running, Tempo’s modular and flexible solutions offer the complete suite of tools to support your organization.
From setting the strategy for the whole business and communicating the roadmap with Roadmunk, to organizing the work for the teams getting it done in Structure, and visualizing performance in Custom Charts, Tempo has the tools for any company looking to develop their Agile workflows.
For more resources like this visit tempo.io/agile-at-scale.