Agile In Pakistan

Merai S. Syed
4 min readJan 16, 2020

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A Startup Perspective

Ever wondered how startups are getting ready to shape the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Pakistan? To create change, we believe in starting small and making every step count towards the vision of ‘Digital Pakistan’. Let’s begin by understanding how the way we work has changed over the past few years.

Changes in the way we work over time

In the past, there was one computer scientist who would build the whole product. Today, we have bigger teams and each task is delivered by specialized resources for every type of operation. Similarly, the project manager is now managing knowledge workers and their role is more supportive and less directive as compared to a traditional worker hierarchy where there is a strict top down structure.

Where Should A Startup Begin Implementation?

The way we work reflects our mindset. To start understanding agile, we begin by changing the way we think about how we work in teams to deliver products. Creating an agile mindset is the first step into the agile journey.

How It All Began?

In 1980s, a group of middle-aged men met on the slopes of Utah to draft the agile manifesto as an answer to the challenges faced by companies to deliver the same product. The manifesto consists of 4 values and 12 principles. Let’s briefly understand what these are:

Agile Values:

Four core values that help us to embrace the agile mindset need to be the first point of focus for any team or organization to initiate change.

Agile Principles:

The twelve principles provide a guideline on how we can implement an agile approach.

Agile Principles

Source : https://www.visual-paradigm.com/

Waterfall vs Agile Approach

Most of our methodologies of building products have come from the manufacturing industry. When we build a dam or set up a structure, the direction cannot be changed midway when a new requirement comes up. On the other hand, building software is a science and every time we build a new product, we have to experiment to understand what works.

At the National Incubation Center, Islamabad we are helping startups adopt an agile mindset through foundational trainings and monitoring how work is being done within teams. By the end of the training, the founders are able to understand how multitasking and handoffs can impact their productivity, and how building cross-functional teams can enhance the productivity of their team as a whole. Along with this, they are able to learn tricks that avoid group think , especially when teams try to understand and align their difficulty level per user story.

Startup Founders Engaged in an Agile Training Session

How agile is shaping product development at NIC

Yneer, a startup incubated at the NIC that connects requesters and travelers , is using agile to eliminate handoffs and reduce multitasking in its product development.

Maha Naeem, cofounder Yneer says, “We aim to be cross functional, self- motivated and self-organized to build an agile team”.

According to Y-combinator, ‘Building product as a small startup’ , a major concern for startups is that there is no guideline on you how to launch the product.

Spacesly, an event and venue marketplace used Scrumban, an agile framework, to help them push out their product.

Mir Imad Ahmed , cofounder Spacesly comments , “Before going agile, our product timelines were scattered. Scrumban helped us focus on the valuable deliverables and ship our product quickly”.

Time and Tune Freight Solutions, a startup aiming to disrupt the logistics industry by connecting shippers and carriers, is using scrum-another popular agile framework, to help it reduce its time to market.

Muhammad Amir Malik, cofounder Time & Tune Freight Solutions explains his approach , “We have daily standups within the two-week sprint cycle, with a minimum shippable product as a deliverable at the end of each cycle.”

LIVE Stick , a swiss knife for content creators is working to develop its prototype using agile.

According to the cofounder, Rashid Ali “ Through the session we have learnt how to focus on the value adding features of each prototype iteration, using an agile mindset.”

Moving forward, a foundational training session will be a part of the curriculum for all incubated startups in order to encourage a culture of experimentation and help startups adopt an agile mindset.

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