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Vadim Ulanov, Ferrero Russia: “In Agile, mistakes are part of the process”

Until recently, the Agile concept was only used by the most advanced IT companies. However, Agile software development has proven so effective that it is being adopted by companies from a wide variety of industries. Why has Agile gained such popularity? Can this methodology be applied to any company, or are there limitations? Find out more in our new issue of “10 Questions to an Expert”.

We spoke to Vadim Ulanov, head of project management group at Ferrero Russia. We also asked Andrey Anikin, founder and CEO of Web Control, to share his opinion about Agile.

Agile is a flexible approach to software development. An agile project is divided into iterations, i.e. short cycles of 2-3 weeks. Each iteration solves a number of tasks: requirements analysis, design, programming, testing, and documentation. At the end of each iteration, the team analyzes the results and reprioritizes tasks for the next iteration. As a result, within each iteration, a mini-product or an independent part of the project is created which is ready for launch.

The key topics featured in this issue:

  • How is Agile different from traditional project management?

  • Is Agile suitable for data management?

  • How can I implement Agile?

  • What challenges do companies face?

  • How should project teams be built? How do I adapt the team to new roles?

  • What business areas may see Agile as the most promising approach?

Best quotes by Vadim Ulanov:

“Agile makes it more likely to get the right product quickly. With the standard waterfall model, much more time is spent on project implementation. But when the project has been completed, circumstances may change so that the product will no longer be relevant in the new environment”.

“Where should you start when implementing Agile? The first thing to do is to set up the team. Keep in mind that Agile is about mature teams. Implementing Agile while training newbies is a bad idea. You need people who clearly understand their responsibilities and can voice their point of view and back it with good arguments.”

“Agile is always about a business product. You need a specific goal. Ask yourself over and over, why are you doing this? What goals do you want to achieve?”

“You should realize that in Agile, mistakes are part of the process. You can’t calculate all the risks in advance. What you need is some reasonable optimism. You’ll also want to prepare you managers that something may go wrong in the process.”

“People in general gravitate towards their familiar functions, so be prepared that you’ll have to go through the effort of engaging your team in a new methodology.”

“Agile has many faces. There’s Scrum, Kanban, and other methodologies. Each case will be different. For example, Scrum focuses a lot on team roles. Say, a team must include a business representative — it’s them who makes the final decision whether the business will be working with a new product or not. Second, the team needs a sufficient number of experts. All the tasks to be worked out by a team must be solved within the said team. Of course, you can involve external experts, but a quick response is what matters. Finally, you need a good facilitator, a.k.a. a Scrum Master.

“The team must get used to the fact that they are fully responsible for both success and failure. At the same time, they must be bold when making decisions, but also have a certain degree of freedom. However, the management is not always ready to grant such powers to teams, that’s why Agile is not suitable for all companies.”

“The market follows the IT. More and more companies will become Agile evangelists following the IT, because the critical factor in the market is speed — the speed of making business decisions, the speed of transition to the new normal. Agile empowers you to abandon outdated or utopian ideas before it’s too late.”

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