Adoption of Agile methods is on the rise. Surveys report a 20% increase in the number of firms planning Agile pilot projects this year. Agile pilot projects usually go well. Quality is high, stakeholders are satisfied, and people are excited.
It is natural to want to extend the advantages of Agile to the enterprise. Yet , while Agile pilot projects include simple Agile concepts applied by small teams of eager early adopters, scaling Agile is an entirely different ball game. While the basic concepts of an Agile pilot remain, the breadth of process and organizational scope scaling Agile can entail often proves to be rather challenging. It may take years for a large-scale transition to Agile, and many organizations are not yet prepared to meet the challenge. An integrated, well-rounded roadmap is essential.
Certainly, Agile management frameworks such as Scrum and SAFe® can help shape the management side of your Agile transformation roadmap. While Scrum suggests rigorous use of only a few basic practices by small Agile teams, SAFe provides a broad array of practices aimed at organizing portfolios of software products, programs, and teams across the enterprise. Both have merit. Decide which techniques best fit your organization and determine how to integrate your selected agile techniques with your proven project governance and compliance practices.
Does your Agile transformation plan neglect practices that are the very foundation of the Agile movement? It is not enough to adopt Agile management practices and omit changing the way software engineers work in the trenches. Agile teams attempting to work faster in short sprints must develop software differently. If you can explain what your Agile roadmap does with Sprints, Stand-ups, and Burn-downs, but can’t speak to test-first principles, continuous integration, pairing, test automation, simplicity, and loose coupling, then your not-so-Agile engineering practices will become your weak link. Increase end-to-end value by including Agile engineering practices like Extreme Programming (XP) and automation of low-value software development tasks like builds, testing, and deployment in your roadmap.
Agile won’t work in isolation. Areas of business and IT that surround software development such as product planning, budgeting, project initiation and management, architecture, deployment, and operations will need to rethink practices to align with Agile development. Agile builds on lean principles of eliminating waste and creating value for the business through trust, collaboration, self-organizing teams, continuous improvement, simplicity, and technical excellence. If such concepts are not integral to your culture, you will need to drive considerable culture change. Gain executive buy-in early and communicate these themes passionately both vertically and horizontally. Set an example by ensuring your organizational change framework embraces Agile principles and that your transformation plan responds to changing stakeholder needs and priorities.
Transformation support is critical. Agile transformations engage individuals, teams, and business units at different times and in different degrees. Recognize needs of stakeholders in different stages of engagement and guide them through awareness, on-boarding, growth, and optimization. Select coaches that unite expertise in your chosen Agile frameworks with systematic mentoring approaches tailored to your needs. Tooling and automation will be essential when your transformation approaches critical mass, so ensure tools and services are ready when your teams are ready.
While no Agile transformation plan will be free from course corrections, a well-planned roadmap leads to Agile’s promise of increased quality and speed to value. To avoid getting lost along the way, develop a holistic Agile transformation roadmap that:
Remains focused on eliminating waste and driving value
- Includes Agile management and Agile engineering practices
- Establishes a culture that embraces Agile principles
- Responds to changing priorities and stakeholder needs as the transformation evolves
- Provides stakeholder support at different stages of engagement
- Facilitates timely automation of low-value repetitive tasks to drive efficiencies