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What does the Agile methodology bring to HR?

Participation of José Cheu, Board Member, Operations & Delivery of Abaco Consulting,  in the Special “Agile” of RH Magazine [PT Only]: https://rhmagazine.pt/exclusivo-o-que-traz-a-metodologia-agile-aos-rh/

If the Agile methodology is no longer implemented only in the areas of technology and can now be extended to the various aspects of an organization, what can it bring benefits to HR?

The Agile methodology is a strategic management tool that aims to increase productivity and prospects for success, thus ensuring the competitiveness of companies. The methodology was initially designed for the software industry, but quickly extended to other organizational aspects.

This collaborative solution will change the way organizations manage projects and operate as a whole, offering greater flexibility, productivity and transparency, and increasing stakeholder engagement and satisfaction. The ultimate goal is to implement solutions faster, focus efforts with a view to success, obtain shorter response times and optimize processes, through an organizational structure that is intended to be light, agile, collaborative, and focused on the specific needs of the client.

All of this is achieved through a mentality transformation, which should be the basis for implementing this methodology. According to José Chéu, Board Member, Operations & Delivery at Abaco Consulting, an Agile company is, above all, a mindset: «It is a way of being in the market to improve the experience of our customers and, internally, in the way we operate, align and become agile for our main commitment – creating value for customers.”

To implement the Agile methodology, companies need to initiate an organizational transformation process and change their mindset. This is what Abaco Consulting started by doing in 2018, and along the path they have been following, there have been several successful cases. However, José Chéu recalls that there may be cases of failure, “as is normal within the ‘fail fast learn fast’ principle”. The responsible highlights, as a practical example, the Global Support &Nearshore Center.

«In our installed base of customers we had a huge backlog of requests being resolved (corrective and evolutionary maintenance incidents). The implementation of the Agile methodology began with the organization of the workspace, isolating the team in a specific room for this purpose. We created a Kanban Board and, involving everyone, clear and visible policies were defined, such as: priority criteria in multitask, definition of done, and classification of impediments. Every day, we started measuring activity indicators and global meetings to gather feedback and suggestions for improving the process. The results were extraordinary. At the end of three months, we had reduced the average closing time for incidents by 25%. By the end of that year, we had dropped 30% again and, at this point, considering all corrective and evolutionary requests, the end-to-end process takes two weeks.”

At Abaco, the main lesson learned was to continue to think big, regardless of failures. However, according to José Chéu, it is crucial to “start small and scale quickly”. In other words, companies “must maintain the long-term goal of having an Agile organization in all areas/departments.”

The responsible explains, in a simplified way, how companies should start by implementing the Agile methodology: «The start should be with a pilot in a specific area  (in our case it was the installed base customer support service), and then it should- expand to the rest of the organization, using best practices and learning from os do & don’t. The existence of a coach who helps in the process of implementation and evangelization of the methodology in the rest of the organization can be a critical success factor to be taken into account.”

The fact that communication becomes clearer, more transparent and united in the teams, in favor of a common objective, directly impacts people management. José Chéu explains how the Agile mindset allows a greater focus on employees: «We started to work for the customer and what he values, as opposed to what we think he values. This mindset allowed people to focus more on their daily tasks, as their perceived value became clearer. Priorities were made based on their importance. On the other hand, the simplicity of the methods, tools and work dynamics implemented brought greater motivation, as the evolution and improvement are continuous. The more junior elements had a faster learning curve and the more senior ones (re)focused on activities with greater added value.”


“In a global way, information is now available in a clear and transparent way, thus increasing the commitment among all”, stresses José Chéu.