An Introduction to Agile for HR

As more and more industries and business units adopt the Agile Methodology, it’s critical that Human Resources understands this lightweight development method. So today, we’re providing a quick introduction to Agile for HR professionals.

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An Introduction to Agile for HR

In the 1990s, the seeds of the Agile Methodology began to form in the software development space. In an industry known for “move fast and break things,” in the 90s, it was taking software developers more than three years to move from concept to solution.

Their answer was a lightweight, flexible system based on four tenets of prioritization:

  • Individuals and their interactions over processes and tools.
  • Working prototypes over comprehensive solutions
  • Customer collaboration over the contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following the plan

Those four tenets have worked their way outside of the software development world; even the military has used these tenets to overcome the forces of a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous world.

The Key Practices of Agile

Along with the four tenets, Agile Methodology also commonly includes three core practices.

Scrum

The first core Agile practice is the Scrum, a term from the rugby world. Similar to a huddle in football, a scrum is a method of restarting a play by first coming together.

A Scrum in Agile is a short, daily team huddle before work begins. By starting together, the group can quickly reassess changing circumstances and adapt how they’re going to approach new challenges.

Sprint

The second core practice of Agile is a Sprint. A Sprint is a short project (usually one to four weeks) designed to push a larger initiative forward.

Unlike the traditional waterfall method, which lays out a longterm, detailed plan for solving a problem, a Sprint tackles the problem one step at a time. Once a team prioritizes a challenge to be solved, they take action immediately with a Sprint.

Because Sprints are short project cycles, it allows teams to move the ball forward and pivot quickly if necessary.

After the first Sprint, the team moves into a continual cycle of iterating off what they learned in the previous Sprint again and again and again until they have a working solution.

Kanban

The final core practice of Agile is Kanban.

A Kanban is a simple project management tool that splits a project’s tasks into three categories:

  • To-Do
  • In Progress
  • Done

The Kanban method is typically visualized using a three-column board. The Kanban board provides teams a quick visual for continually reprioritize and stay on the page.

Often, teams create Kanban boards on a large, centralized bulletin board or by using a task management software like Trello.

Wrapping Up

The Agile Methodology is a reaction to bloated project management processes, so unlike most “systems,” it is intentionally lightweight and easy to adopt. All you need to know are the above tenets and practices to get started.

We hope this introduction to Agile for HR gets you thinking about how to implement this development process into your practices.

To see Agile HR in practice, check out our short Sprint Case Study.

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