The Agile Process, Part 2: Winning Project Management Tips for MSPs

Agile Process Part 2, Winning Project Management Tips for MSPs

As we discussed in The Agile Process, Part 1, Liongard uses short “Sprints,” or two-week blocks of focused teamwork, to add value iteratively for managed services providers. And though the Agile process originated in the software development industry, its principles and processes can be applied to project management efforts across a myriad of industries.

As an MSP, you can start implementing Agile methodology to work smarter and deliver more value to your customers, faster.

Can Agile Really Work for MSPs?

There may be a few reasons the Agile process hasn’t been adopted as quickly outside the software development world, explains Dylan Barth, Liongard’s Director of Software Engineering. For one, when you start diving into the various components, it just sounds a lot like a software-only methodology, or seems complicated, which can discourage others from exploring its benefits. Others may have been burned in the past by what was described as “Agile,” but wasn’t implemented properly.

“In reality,” says Barth, “Agile is just a way of getting people to work together to meet customer needs—and that can be applied to more than just software development.”

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you want to keep things sustainable for your MSP—becoming more Agile is a marathon, not a sprint (pun intended). Liongard has always had this way of working built into its DNA, but as time progressed and more people joined the team, the processes tightened up. Your MSP can take a similar approach by wading into the waters with a looser project management framework that grows more Agile in time.

“Where do I start?”

You don’t need to hire a consultant or invest a lot of money upfront to become more Agile. In addition to simply learning more about the Agile process and how it can work for your MSP, you can get started by thinking critically about your day-to-day processes. Try asking yourself or your team:

  • “What are our customer touchpoints?”
  • “How do we collect feedback?”
  • “Are we doing a good job of aggregating the feedback we receive, and responding in a timely way?”
  • “How do we track our own performance?”
  • “How could we improve our processes so our teams can work more efficiently, and provide more value to customers?”

“If the answers to these questions aren’t crystal clear,” says Barth, “it might be a sign your MSP would benefit from becoming more Agile.”

Real-World Ways to Make Your MSP More Agile

Following the Agile process, your team can work better together to provide value to your customers. Examples of this include:

  • Listen and respond to customer feedback. Building this into your MSP’s culture will help you address the needs of your customers faster.
  • Check in daily with teams and sub-teams. It only takes 15 minutes to set the tone for the entire day and make sure everyone is rowing in the same direction. And once you implement these daily Standup Meetings, they’ll quickly become the norm.
  • Work in iterations for any project or goal. Want to improve response time or the onboarding process? Break those goals down into tasks and then sub-tasks, delegate, check in frequently and pivot if needed.
  • Take time to reflect. Evaluating how a project went, including what worked and what needs improving, is an important step that will sharpen your entire team for the next set of tasks they undertake.
  • Track projects more methodically. Project management tools like Jira help support Agile methodologies like the Kanban or Scrum frameworks, or any variation that works for your company. If you don’t have a systematic way of making visible progress on projects, a tool like this can help distill projects into individual tasks and track workflow easily.

Recommended Reading

Whether you’re just jumping into the world of Agile or freshening up on the methodology, Barth suggests checking out these resources:

  • The Agile Coach—Atlassian’s no-nonsense guide to Agile development covers a variety of related topics and even offers free tutorials, including how to drive a Kanban project with Jira software.
  • Clean Agile: Back to Basics—Robert C. Martin, software engineer and co-author of The Agile Manifesto, lays out his experience with and wisdom of all things Agile.
  • The Agile Alliance—Created by some of the original authors of The Agile Manifesto, this website provides a wealth of resources for all Agile experience

Think you’re too busy to become more Agile? Think again! Liongard’s advanced automation shaves significant time off your workweek, so you’ll be able to start focusing on process improvements. Try a free demo to learn more about how Liongard can help you standardize, secure and scale so your MSP can operate at 10x!

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