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Working as a team and not as individuals

Working as a team and not as individuals

26 February 2016

By Engineer Drew Dutton

As a tech, agile means exactly that; agility. It means being able to change focus quickly, getting help when needed, and using the combined knowledge of the group instead of dealing with the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals. It means getting everyone a general overview of the day instead of narrowing focus to their specific tasks. Most importantly though, agile means being able to calmly take on the tasks at hand instead of fighting them off as they come.

Daily standups are one of the most important agile strategies we’ve adopted, from a tech’s standpoint (if not the most important one). While at first it felt like giving a daily progress report, it has since turned into the most collaborative and productive part of the day. It gives the seasoned techs a chance to share their knowledge and the greener techs a chance to find learning opportunities. It reduces travel time by openly sharing where we’re going and finding ways to help along the way. It better utilizes time by helping us find tasks to take care of in our free time and unload them when we can’t get to it. It has gone from the progress report to something we look forward to every morning.

That’s not to say that the standups are the only contributing change that has done more than lower our ticket numbers. All too often, a tech will get caught up on a problem that could easily occupy half a day. By following the agile principles of task management you learn when it’s best to keep your nose down and when it’s best to take a break and tackle something else. If an issue can be resolved in less than ten minutes, knocking it out will not only keep our open issues down but will provide better service to the customer. It’s truly a win-win. As one of our techs recently explained “Sure, it might take me away from what I’m working on but in the ten minutes I lost I closed three extra tickets and gave my mind a chance to reset. When I came back to the original issue the solution popped right up just because I forced myself to concentrate on something else for a while.”

The newest tool in our agile arsenal has been the Kanban board. Before, we relied on a simple list when reviewing our tickets. While it worked to remind us what we were working on it didn’t do much to show us where those tickets were in the process. Now with a quick glance we can see priority and determine which issues might require immediate action. Prioritization happens automatically, requiring less work for the tech and ensuring nothing gets missed.

Just saying “agile works” would be an understatement. Since adopting agile methodologies our open ticket count has more than halved, our customer satisfaction has risen eight points, and most importantly: we’re working more as a team than a collection of individuals.


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