Managing an AGILE Transformation
The IT industry is the most evolving industry across the world. Continuous innovation and transformation of IT keeps business across the world running. However, transformations are uncomforting, they involve investment of time, effort and capital. To make these transformations faster and efficient—in terms of cost and effort—it is imperative to undergo a major overhaul across the organization.
When I say Agile does it ring the bell? Agile has become a buzzword in the IT industry. It is not just a software development methodology, it is the beginning of change in the organization structure and change in mindset. Organizations are rapidly transforming to agile from the traditional waterfall methodology.
What is driving this change?
Waterfall methodology holds good for straight-forward simple projects, but falls short when adhering to a rigid structure and more intricate projects. For a complicated project filled with uncertainty, agile tends to be more successful than others.
Agile can be loosely defined as the ability to move and think quickly and easily. The main reason behind transforming to agile is to produce top-notch quality working software in short, fast increments, also known as continuous delivery.
Agile adoption and transformation
Most organizations recognize the benefits of agile, but transforming an entire organization from waterfall to agile is a difficult task. It involves a mindset and culture change in the workforce, which can be uncomfortable for most. It also involves changes in the organization’s structure, team dynamics, tools, processes, stakeholder interactions, etc.
The organization can take care of the following best practices when undergoing transformation.
Vision for change
This is one of the most important step that every organization should consider when beginning the transformation. They should highlight, why agile model is the best option for the business and what are the benefits it can deliver. The leadership should also communicate how the transformation would impact the stakeholders.
Setting up an implementation team
Once the vision is clear the leadership team should identify the right set of people to own, plan and execute the transition. The implementation team should include senior members from the IT organization who have experience in agile development and are convinced that agile will yield better benefits. They should have the freedom and flexibility to navigate through the organization structure and get their tasks done. However, there should be a governing body to just oversee and monitor their work.
Identify quick wins
Once the implementation team takes over, they should quickly identify projects or a bunch of enhancement requests that could deliver critical functionality to production faster, using agile methods. These should then be presented as business cases to showcase the benefits realized to the leadership team.
The implementation team should run a branding campaign and create a very catchy tagline.
Branding and continuous communication within the organization is necessary to reinforce the need for agile and its benefits to tech and business teams. Communication and socialization could happen through multiple channels such as corporate newsletters, broadcasts, leadership blogs, internal road shows, posters, contests, quizzes, etc.
Train and coach
Agile transformation is not possible without proper training and coaching. The implementation team should plan for structured and packaged training sessions to impart knowledge on the fundamentals of agile to all teams across the organization. The training programs should focus on the best agile engineering practices and behavioral aspects.
Often IT organizations, who are new to Agile, avail the services of external consultants, trainers, and coaches to conduct structured training programs for the teams or provide guidance on project execution.
Scale to entire organization
Based on the results of the early experiments and quick wins, the implementation team should plan for implementing agile practices across the IT organization. Pilot results should be broadcast to the entire organization, thus developing a positive environment for change.
The leadership team could also encourage non-technology projects to adopt agile practices with necessary tailoring so that the entire organization could be in tune to work in agile mode.
To successfully scale up agile adoption, the implementation team along with the leadership should draft a long-term plan to sustain the change and embed it in the organization’s culture. Rewards and recognition should be introduced to support and sustain agile adoption.
The leadership team should take feedback from the stakeholders on a continuous basis to validate that the business is benefiting from the large-scale adoption of agile practices.
In this way, as the organization matures, teams start committing and focusing on technical practices and DevOps, thus reducing the turnaround time and successfully transforming into an Agile organization.