Today, many organizations are adopting the Agile methodology. If implemented correctly, it can result in several benefits – flexibility to adapt to the changing requirements of a complex business scenario, faster delivery, early detection of errors, increased productivity, greater visibility of progress…all of which can result in increased stakeholder satisfaction overall. The key question though is – does the Agile Methodology work for all products, and can / should it be implemented across the entire organization structure?
Retracing the Agile journey
In search of answers, I have retraced my own Agile mindset adoption journey below. Like most people in the IT community, I followed the shu ha ri Agile adoption pattern—taking up courses, acquiring additional knowledge through various resources, and practicing what was learnt. My focus was on few chosen topics – Where do I start Implement across the organization? All products or chosen few?
I found that while there was plenty of information available, there was relatively limited practical insight available on applying it to your organization, formulating strategies for implementations, making decisions on scaling.
Still, on the second level – a real eye opener – I began picking my peers’ brains, and those who had ‘been there’ to understand how they managed to put theory into practice. While implementation at an individual project level seemed straight forward, I questioned how Agile project portfolios were tracked at an aggregate level, what KPIs were leveraged at a Portfolio level, how ballpark estimation was done prior to project approval and resource assignment…in other words, how was fluency achieved?
While interviewing candidates and exploring their Agile experiences, I found that information shared was very similar to that found in courses. For example, they were unable to offer much insight other than what was learnt during the pursuit of certification, or very basic individual project execution. In other words, experience at portfolio level seemed limited.
So, what is the key takeaway?
Are there any distinct observations worth mentioning? Consider the following aspects:
- The strategy needs to be well-defined, despite the abstract connotations associated with Agile
- Understand what benefits you are looking to achieve
- Variability is critical to a successful rollout
- Ensure adequate support for cultural transition
- Flexibility should not be considered a license for mismanagement
- Never forget that customer-readiness with continuous feedback is essential
Agile adoption requires a cultural transformation and moving away from entrenched processes, for it to work successfully. Enterprise Agile processes work best when the strategy for implementation is in place for all levels of adaptation—projects or organizational. Collaboration is equally critical, and mutual. This effectively means that training needs to extend outside of your organization to clients who need to understand the joint benefits and what is expected of them.
Above all, we need to accept that Agile needs to be measured differently in every organization. Yet, the similarity in experiences can be a useful insight to understand how clients and your own organization can truly benefit from it. Finally, know what you are trying to achieve and visualize what its success looks like to you, as there certainly are different shapes and sizes for all. You may experience ups and downs, but the journey is worth it!
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