The Agile methodology is taking the world by storm and is rapidly cementing its place as the golden standard. Originally designed for software development, Agile is now being used by the biggest disruptive businesses, just like Salesforce.
We’ve mentioned recently that AFDigital also follows Agile; that’s because we’re a Salesforce Gold Consulting Partner! We have seen how Agile helped Salesforce deliver the best quality products and remain on top of innovation. How do you think they got this successful? Because of that, AFDigital decided to follow in its footsteps.
But how did Salesforce switch to Agile in the first place?
Salesforce’s Journey to Agile
For Salesforce, it started in 2006 when they were experiencing phenomenal growth. Salesforce had more customers, more products, more people, and more revenue — and this growth spurt wasn’t easy to adjust to. Their usual approach just didn’t work anymore — there were delays. As a result, there was a slowdown in innovation. Dreamforce, their biggest annual event, was almost cancelled that year because of delays in organisation: there were no keynotes, no new product and service announcements, and no product-ready features available for the next year. Imagine that.
Salesforce expertly dodged this slump by doing what they do best: They took a risk by adopting a new approach and implementing a workflow that ensured a smooth delivery process with no delays. They adopted a set of agile processes and principles; and this revolutionised the way Salesforce develops and delivers products.
What is Agile?
In a nutshell, the Agile principles are all about being adaptive and flexible. Its methods and processes are based on iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams.
Compared to the classic waterfall framework, a much less flexible project management process that some Salesforce teams still use, the final outcome using agile isn’t always known and the process to get there is a work in progress. On the other hand, waterfall practices usually entail planning everything up front and knowing the exact steps, processes, and final outcome before any implementation.
So how do you know which one to choose? Here’s a simple guide:
|Choose the waterfall approach when…||Choose the agile approach when…|
|The work is simple and predictable||The work is new and complex|
|The work is predictable but requires expertise||You’re making new products or services, or doing something you’ve never done before|
|The scope is defined and the work can be automated||The scope isn’t defined and is subject to changes|
|The work is divided into large teams that are unable to constantly communicate||The work can be done by small teams and needs teamwork and collaboration|
|The work needs client feedback on major milestone stages only||The work requires consistent client feedback at all points|
How Salesforce Implemented Agile
When Salesforce started to implement agile practices on their teams, they adjusted many of their methods. Apart from adopting a new delivery mindset, they also standardised their processes, embraced Lean principles, and defined what “finished work” actually means.
Majority of Salesforce teams now use a variation of Agile and Scrum, one of the agile processes they chose to adopt. Scrum helps Salesforce teams to find out what works and what doesn’t work in their products and make changes accordingly.
They also embraced Lean principles, which are statements that highlight Salesforce’s workflow and teamwork:
- Respect People
- Eliminate Waste
- Deliver Fast
- Just-in-Time Decisions
- Optimize the Whole
- Create Knowledge
- Build Quality In
Of course, now that teams can successfully iterate their processes, how will they know if they’re truly done with a work item? Salesforce created a standard definition of done (DoD) that dictates everything a team is required to do before they can call a work item truly done.
The Agile process worked perfectly for Salesforce, since they were looking to scale their communication, management, and collaboration as they were growing. This time-bound, iterative approach improved alignment among teams and helped everyone manage progress to deliver more value to customers more efficiently. And since then, Salesforce has been improving their delivery and keeping their customers at the center of everything they do.
As a Salesforce Gold Consulting Partner, AFDigital embraced the Agile methodology. AFDigital handles its projects and deliverables within one- or two-week increments, getting consistent feedback from clients and adjusting the items accordingly. This gives us a clearer view of what our clients really need and want, allowing us to deliver the best results and solutions. Once we adopted agile, we improved the quality of our deliverables, managed our resources more efficiently, and became more proactive, alert, and innovative. Needless to say, we’ve been agile since 2011!
Why This Matters To You
Customers can now make smarter decisions thanks to technology, and they want value before they give your business any attention. To stay relevant and afloat, you need to keep your company customer-centric — and that’s not an easy feat if you stick with the traditional methods. Here’s why Agile matters to you:
To Sales Teams
Before the Internet, customers base their buying decisions mainly on product information given by salesmen; and the success of the sale is hinged on how effectively the salesperson sold the solution to a buyer’s need.
But now, the traditional sales process is declining. Only a few buyers can be bothered to go through a rigid sales process. Customers can now self-educate: they use the Internet to choose among products that they need and use social media networks to cross-check the product’s quality.
Quick-thinking businesses have adapted to this by changing the way they sell. And you should, too. Tech-savvy executives are now focusing on developing CRM systems that will help their sales teams produce high-quality content, attract the right kind of leads and potential clients, and be able to nurture them until they are ready to purchase.
If you want your salespeople to deliver unique, valuable experiences to each buyer they interact with, consider the agile methodology.
To Marketing Teams
With customers taking control of the content they consume, just adding your usual campaigns to today’s marketing clutter will definitely not work anymore. The changing consumer landscape requires you to also make changes in a snap. And you can do this with Agile Marketing.
Instead of an explosion of marketing materials, imagine a controlled snowball rolling down a mountain that gets bigger and faster once it finds the right path — that is agile.
Because broad marketing isn’t effective for small to medium businesses, truly understanding your audience’s needs and behaviours is vital to marketing success. With agile, you can test marketing materials to smaller audiences and make necessary changes to maximise them and make them profitable.
It differs from traditional marketing in many ways, including deliberate experimentation and a continuous commitment to audience satisfaction. Adopting agile practices allows you to get a clear focus on your goals, come up with strategies to achieve it, and see which one works best for your business.
Sticking to traditional workflows in the digital age leaves your company at risk of losing productivity and profit in your business. As the decision-maker in a company, CEOs should be driving change to their organisations — and Agile should be one of them.
Agile practices foster consistent growth and innovation, enabling organisations to create minimum products instead of launching big ideas that could risk the business.
The agile methodology does not only concern the IT department. Business leaders must include it on their agendas as well, making it clear how important this technology and cultural change is. Transitioning to agile requires a widespread acceptance of the test-and-learn approach that should start from the top management.
Most importantly, the agile manifesto values human empowerment. Agile places importance on individuals and interaction than processes and tools. By adopting agile methods, CEOs can unleash their employees’ potential to create the best innovative products and services through teamwork and collaboration. After all, what’s a company without its people? If you’re ready to embrace Agile with your employees, we found this practical guide on how to develop your new agile team.
How You Can Be Agile
Agile Transformation is a journey, not a destination. It won’t be easy to let go and change all the processes that you were used to, but trust us, it’s worth it. And you’re not alone in this. You can work with us and experience Agile in motion, or we can help you and your business become agile with Salesforce. Talk to us!
If you want a more in-depth discussion of Agile and its processes, watch out for our upcoming ebook!