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Agile and Human Resource Management

HR Technology
Published on: Oct 22, 2023

Agile HR refers to the application of agile principles and methodologies to HR functions and processes.

Agile HR refers to the application of agile principles and methodologies to HR functions and processes. Agile was originally developed for software development but now has evolved into a broader project management and problem-solving approach that emphasizes adaptability, collaboration and customer centricity.

What is Agile?

Agile is a project management and product development approach that prioritizes flexibility, collaboration, and customer feedback. This is characterized by iterative and incremental development.

What is SAFe Agile?

SAFe stands for the Scaled Agile Framework used in the field of software development and project management to implement agile practices. It is designed to help deliver complex products and solutions more efficiently and with higher quality. SAFe encompasses many agile concepts such as iterative development, cross functional teams, continuous delivery and customer feedback. It adds additional layers of structures and coordination to make agile practices work effectively in large organizations.

In Human Resource management, Agile is used to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of HR processes and better respond to the dynamic needs of the workforce. Implementing agile principles in HR can help Human Resource departments to become more adaptive, customer centric and efficient in managing various HR processes.

Here is how agile can be applied in HR:

Agile recruiting

  • Sprint based hiring: Break down the recruitment process into sprints with clearly defined goals and regular check-ins.
  • Continuous feedback: Ongoing feedback from hiring managers, candidates and it's our teams to make ongoing improvements.

Onboarding and orientation

  • Personalized onboarding: Customize the onboarding experience based on new employees' role common needs and feedback.
  • Iterative improvement: Continuously we find the onboarding process based on feedback and enhance the new hires experience.

Performance management

  • Regular feedback: From more frequent performance discussions and feedback sessions between managers and employees.

Employee engagement

  • Surveys: Use short, frequent surveys to gauge employee engagement and gather insights into areas needing improvement.

Learning and development

  • Training: Provide employees with training do modules as needed, allowing them to acquire new skills as they become relevant.

HR Process Improvement

  • Regular retrospectives: To conduct retrospectives to review processes and identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Agile boards: Use Kanban or scrum boards to visualize and manage HR tasks and projects.

Diversity and inclusion

  • Inclusive teams: Building diverse and inclusive teams with HR to better understand and address diversity and inclusion issues.

Implementing agile in HR may require a cultural shift, training for HR professionals, and use of agile frameworks such as Kanban to manage HR projects and tasks. It also involves close collaboration with other departments to align HR initiatives with the organization's overall goals.

Adapting Agile principles and methodologies to human resources require few steps to adapt the agile approach to HR.

  • Understanding agile principles: A job professionals should familiarize with themselves with agile principals including iterative development, collaboration, adaptability and customer centricity.
  • Identify HR process for agility: Determine which processes would benefit most from an agile approach. Common areas include recruitment, onboarding, performance management and employee engagement.
  • Form agile HR teams: Create cross functional HR teams with diverse skills, including HR specialist accommodate analysis in IT professionals as needed for project.
  • Define clear goals: Set clear, measurable goals for each extra project and initiative.
  • Prioritize work: Use HR principles to prioritize HR tasks based on business impact and urgency. Focus on delivering value to both employees and the organization.
  • Adopt Agile frameworks: Choose on agile framework at your needs scrum, Kanban and lean are commonly used in agile implementation.
  • Use agile tools: Agile project management tools such as JIRA to track work progress, visualize task and facilitate communication with HR teams.
  • Plan in sprints and iterations: Breakdown your projects into manageable iterations and sprints typically open two to four weeks long with specific objectives to accomplish within each Sprint.

Agile tools

There are various tools available to support agile teams and their development processes. These tools help with project management collaboration tracking work and communication.

  • JIRA - JIRA is one of the most widely used agile project management tools. It allows team to create, track and manage user stories, tasks and issues. It supports various agile frameworks, including scrum and kanban.
  • Trello - Trello is a visual project management tool that uses both, list and cards to organize task and workflows.
  • Version one- Version one is an agile management tool designed specifically for scaling agile practices in larger organizations. It's supports safe and other scaling frameworks.
  • Pivotal tracker - Is a simple and lightweight agile project management tool. It focuses on user stories, prioritization and velocity tracking to help teams in delivering value consistently.
  • Confluence - Confluence is often used in conjunction with JIRA, It's a team collaboration tool by Atlassian. It helps teams create and share documentation common knowledge and project related information.

These tools offer a range of features to support agile practices and can be tailored to meet specific needs of agile teams and projects. The choice of tool often depends on team size, project complexity, and the preferred agile framework being used.

While agile methodologies offer many advantages they may also come with their own set of disadvantages and challenges. The common disadvantages of agile are:

  • Agile often prioritizes working software over comprehensive documentation while this can speed up development, it may lead to gaps in documentation, making it harder for new team member to onboard or for compliance in regulated industries.
  • In larger projects or organizations, managing dependencies between agile teams can be complex. Dependencies can create bottlenecks and coordination challenges.
  • Agile relies on regular customer feedback and collaboration. If customer or stakeholders are not readily available, it can slow down the development process.
  • Agile is well suited for projects with changing requirements and a need for frequent iterations. However, for highly regulated or safety critical projects traditional waterfall methods may be more appropriate.
  • Agile requires teams to be self-organizing and cross functional. If team lacks the necessary skills or experience a child can be less effective.
  • Agile projects require ongoing commitment from both the development team and stakeholders. This can be demanding and may not align with the availability and priorities of all parties involved.

Disadvantages of Agile can be often could be mitigated or managed effectively with the right practices, tools and organizational support.

Further Reading

About the Author
Priyanka Gulati

Priyanka Gulati

Priyanka has over over 10 years of experience as Product Owner and Senior Business Systems Analyst. She wore lot of hats during her career in technology and business and developed interest in writing along the way. Her hobbies are photography, painting, and reading. Hope you enjoy reading her articles.