How HR Teams Can Apply The Agile Methodology

Trailblazing practices have always been an integral part of the IT world. Thus, Agile values and principles have been shaking the technology industry for the past decade. As such, they’ve improved product quality in software development, ensured early and predictable delivery, and reprioritized the overall product backlog.

Until recently, this innovative methodology was considered a set of management practices applicable to software development only. The main reason for that is that Agile’s early advocates were software coders who made waves with the Manifesto for Software Development of 2001. But in 2016, after being recognized by Harvard Business Review, McKinsey & Company, and the 2015 Learning Consortium Project, this set of management practices is seeping into all domains and all types of organizations.

However, when we’re talking about applying Agile practices to HR departments, the question arises:

Can HR professionals adopt this culture to transform into a user-oriented field that is the driving force for work processes?

Before answering this question, let us provide a short primer on the Agile approach.

Behind the Beast

Essentially, Agility is an umbrella term that presupposes a fast response to opportunities. Additionally, it entails increased flexibility, continuous improvement, and a customer-based approach. Agile-driven organizations respond rapidly and actively to shifts and can promptly revamp processes to leverage rising market capacities right off the bat. Instead of being reactive, teams act proactively to implement the necessary shifts.

If we were to describe Agile with one word, that word would be ‘innovation.’

The famous Agile Manifesto describes core values and principles to provide direction to any Agile technique. The main idea is to cultivate an environment of high-quality, functioning software, technical excellence, and continuous reflection.

On the flip side, the Manifesto puts the end-user at the heart of the process. Self-sufficient and universalistic teams are liable for the planning, the project delivery, and other processes.

However, Agile is not a software development exclusive anymore. HR can embrace this disruptive approach to build and redefine processes as well.

Applying Agile practices: Agile HR

Just like software development, Human Resources also juggles comprehensive projects and addresses multiple stakeholders. Most of the time, conflicting priorities call for steadfast and robust strategies for HRs to successfully manage communication, programs, administration, and talent management.

If we then have a closer look at the nature of HR, most teams battle the same issues and demand for modernization, digitalization, and speed delivery. However, the HR profession often plays catch-up with Agility. Therefore, talent management teams have to stay au courant with Agile culture to lead organizational transformation and prevent speed bumps.

Since 2001, Agile HR has come on stage as a philosophy that enables HR specialists to handle unpredictability, boost flexibility, and reinforce organizational processes by using Agile practices in managing the employee life cycle.

In reality, HR teams have been implementing these practices by enhancing cooperation, ditching sequential planning, reducing workflows, and putting team contribution at the center.

Within the Agile universe, teams tightly collaborate to plan, create, and present an HR initiative, instead of working separately from hierarchic guidelines.

But this teamwork goes far outside the HR department. In the finest Agile traditions, HR teams develop solutions collaboratively with customers. In terms of Human Resources, that means co-building solutions with the business that it assists.

Where to start with Agile HR?

While Agile’s overall image seems easy to understand, its fundamental principles and techniques can be intimidating at first and hard to contextualize. Let us go over some simple pointers on how to give this methodology a crush test and move towards full implementation of Agile Human Resources.

1. Do your homework

  • Iterations are just the tip of the Agile glossary. As you take these practices further, you’ll also come across Definition of Done, Continuous Integration, and Antipattern – a whole new terminology that lays the ground for Agile.
  • But instead of just nicking the lexicon from Agile Manifesto, it’s more important to see beyond the surface. Calling your workflow tool a Kanban Board won’t make you an Agility pro. Therefore, it’s better to scour case studies and note how other HR departments have effectively implemented Agile techniques.
  • For starters, you can amplify your traditional approach with Agile Light. That is, putting the Agile principles in place without sticking to all the protocols.

2. Develop a solid business case

  • By performing a profound viability study, you’ll gain an understanding of pure Agile value for your department. In most cases, it’s beneficial to step back and assess an insurmountable task that your team once failed.
  • To create and maintain your business case, you’ll need a bird’s-eye view of the final objectives: What are you trying to accomplish by harnessing Agile HR? How will this philosophy get you from laggards to leaders? Get inspired by other success stories and have a clear vision of potential benefits.

3. Look inside

  • When deciding on the value of Agile HR with major actors, define the internal experience that you can seize en route. Some business players may already know the score in Agile project management and could be your joint force. Also, given the background of this methodology, dev teams might be your guiding light in this challenging shift.
  • If your company still lacks experience, outsourced Agile consultants can always give you the assistance you need.

4. Form an effective Agile team

  • Break down your department into small, high-throughput crews to chew over workloads for the backlog, define their own goals, and act in response during Scrums. This is when a Scrum Master can take over and provide the necessary guidance for the team.

5. Fuel your Agile with technology

  • When Agile was in its infancy, organizations did not have a myriad of containers and orchestration platforms to lead the digital transformation. Today, Agile has hit full – with an ocean of technologies and tools built to complement its application.
  • To experience the full measure of this philosophy, teams will need to rummage through Agile project management tools, as well as HR software platforms to set up their efforts for success.

The Final Word

Traditional approaches to recruitment, on-boarding, and program coordination have proved ineffective in the ever-evolving management landscape. This ushered in a new, fresh approach – Agile HR. Although Agile in HR has clearly taken off and is growing fast, Human Resources departments still lack skills, expertise, and hands-on supervision to fully embrace the methodology.

Backed by agility, Human Resources will be able to shift their focus to the speed of responsiveness and customer-centered approach. Agile HR will also pave the way for a simpler and faster approach that prioritizes collaboration, feedback, and innovation. Like Rome wasn’t built in one day, an innovative approach cannot become entrenched in a legacy mindset in one day either.

Frank Hamilton

Frank Hamilton has been working as an editor at review service Online Writers Rating and an author at Best Writers Online. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.

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