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Agile is both the present and the future of software development. You know that as well as we do, so we won't bore you with the plethora of benefits that come with this development philosophy. But your boss does not, and might not be as quick to adopt an agile methodology as you hope. How do you convince them otherwise? Here are 5 strategies that can help to sell your boss on agile, depending on their management style.
1) For the Analytics Enthusiast, Show the Numbers
Especially tech-focused superiors love to examine the rational, analytical thought behind a project decision. If your boss falls into this category, they need to see the numbers that support agile development in order to buy in to the concept.
Fortunately, plenty of numbers exist to convince even the most analytics-focused boss. Research shows that 75% of agile-focused organizations meet their goals, compared to just 56% of their non-agile peers. Agile development techniques also significantly outpacemore traditional alternatives in end product quality and staying on schedule. Showing your boss these numbers should nudge them toward embracing the concept.
2) For the Traditionalist, Break Down the Alternatives
Another category of superiors opposes agile development simply because it's different from "what we've always done." This type of boss is difficult to convince, because their conviction is not likely to be based on rational thought. Convincing them otherwise is a difficult task, but not impossible.
The best strategy to take is to show them the shortcomings of the methods they prefer. We know that traditional 'waterfall' development comes with disadvantages that range from a higher failure rate to increased expense and a lack of testing. To convince your boss that is the case, connect these general statements with specific development projects they can relate to. As they see the shortcomings play out in a real-world situation, they will become more likely to open the possibility of an alternative philosophy.
3) For the Competitor, Examine Your Peers
"What are our competitors doing?" For both technologists and marketers, this question - often posed by a superior - is both a blessing and a curse. Competitors engaging in a practice does not make it automatically more successful; instead, it may simply be an example of herd mentality and group think. But in this case, knowing that your boss has a constant eye on your competition means an opening to convince them on the value of agile development.
You can choose to go either with anecdotal or empirical evidence of agile's value. If you know direct competitors who are using the methodology, don't be afraid to point them out. But even if you don't, emphasizing statistics such as the fact that no less than 91% of IT professionals now embrace at least some agile concepts can help make your case.
4) For the Budget Hawk, Establish ROI
Managing a budget is a difficult task, and can quickly come to dominate the mindset of executives in all departments. If you know your boss to make any important decision with an eye toward the impact it will have on the budget, take this knowledge into account when selling them on the value of agile.
Multiple studies have shown that embracing agile development comes with significant return on investment. As one study points out,
The ROI of agile methods when compared to the traditional methods is significant, because of the lower costs, fewer defects, and lower total life cycle costs.
Another noted that because of the statistics shown in the first strategy above, the high cost of product failure alone means that agile development and its higher success rate will save companies significant money. The ROI of agile development, in other words, is undeniable.
Of course, the above are just a few of the many archetypes your boss may occupy. The cover a wide spectrum, and using the outlined arguments can help you nudge your company toward embracing agile development. For further help in the process, or if you simply need more ammunition to sell your boss on agile, contact us below.
By Paul Blair
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Posted February 12, 2016