Amid laughs, Lego plays, origami papers, plastic sheets and colorful pencils is how you could see Zentyal staff at HQ on the 21st of December. The reason was the Agile workshop Teresa Oliver had prepared for Zentyal crew. But what is Agile? Is it really useful tool to improve the project development? Teresa, founder of Skok and in charge of this Agile training session, was pleased to respond to some questions for those who still don’t know what Agile techniques can do for your work-flow.

Zentyal: What is Agile?
Teresa Oliver: It is a different way of managing projects and teams. It is based on giving value to the customer as soon as possible, as frequently as possible and adapting to the change all the time. It means not to have complex and fixed requirements at the beginning of the project, but build and deliver them at the end of it because there are many possibilities of not doing everything right from the beginning, not to have understood the requirements properly or it might also happen that customer needs change during the project. For this to work it is vital that the teams share and practice a range of values like confidence, communication, respect and absolute transparency, and this is not always easy.

Z: Why games can help to overcome these issues?
T. O.: We combine many short games to stimulate the conversation about different Agile values with other longer games such as Lego and the ones with board and pieces in order to understand the complete cycle of a project. These games helps to embrace and fix concepts much more clearly than a traditional presentation.

Teresa Oliver delivering Agile training at Zentyal HQ

Z: If I want to practice Agile methodologies, what are the first steps to be taken?
T. O.: When we -Skok- collaborate in a company, we start with a basic workshop for the whole team, comparing their common everyday work with an Agile one. Afterwards we choose a pilot project, we apply Agile principles from the start and we learn what happens: What works and what has to be adapted to this specific environment. And later we extend, little by little, the learning to the rest of the projects. It uses to be very contagious.

Z: Is it possible to apply Agile in other environments apart from software development? Some people say they use it in their lives.
T. O.: Of course! In fact it is done more and more: At universities and schools, for managing ONGs, for organizing children tasks in families, to mobilize multidisciplinary teams for transversal projects in big organizations… Agile can be useful in every environment where there is a set of people sharing a common goal and dealing with uncertainty and a fast adaptation to change.

Z: In case I want to learn more, to whom I should turn to for advice?
T. O.: Apart from books and blogs, I recommend to meet people in your local community that share these interests. In Zaragoza we have Agile Aragon, a small but very active community, that meets periodically to organize events, talks, bring people from other cities to share their experiences, make Agile programming sessions, etc. There is nothing like personal contact.

Z: How can I find my local Agile community?
T. O.: In Spain local communities are listed here. A good worldwide list, can be found here.

Thanks Teresa for making Zentyal Team a little more agile :)!

A post by Marta Cambronero