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On November 20th, ten CIRA employees took their place at the Gatineau Ottawa Agile Tour (GOAT), ready to engage in a day of learning, networking, and great conversation. GOAT is a one-day conference for agile and organizational change practitioners located in the heart of Ottawa. As an organization that embraces best practices in project management, and has become a leader in Agile, it is important that we stay abreast of the latest issues and trends that help us perform at our best.

Of all the fantastic sessions, here are our key takeaways:

Use agile when and where it's right for you

Every organization should put their own spin on agile so it's the right fit for their environment. Many different companies were represented at GOAT, each of whom implement agile in a slightly different way. Although there were many similarities, what we quickly came to realize is that there is no right or wrong way to practice agile. As an organization, we should recognize how and where agile framework and techniques are used and where other processes enable the management of the business.

Question and assess your workflow

Sometimes, our workflow is determined by what has always been done. It's good to take a step back and assess what is working, what isn't and how we can save time. For example, instead of writing code first, like we normally do, once we know the API it's much more efficient to write the unit tests before anything else.

Use metrics to help inform decisions

It can be easy to spend time on features that receive very little use. By recording metrics and using them as a benchmark, you can drive decision making on where your time is better spent.

You are not alone - over and underestimating story points is a constant challenge for everyone

Humans are generally better at estimating relative values. By moving away from estimating by ideal days, to a system where points are assigned based on previous data, estimation becomes more accurate and you have a better idea of what a team can achieve in a sprint. That said, going from ideal days to abstract units of measurement requires past data, a tuning period, and becomes invalidated when you're losing or adding team members.

Ask the right questions

At the end of the day, it always comes back to asking the right questions. Use humble inquiry to build relationships, increase trust and collaboration, and manage the challenges that come hand in hand with change. This is as simple as asking open-ended questions and keeping the five Ws and How in mind.