Getting Started with Agile in the Enterprise
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If a team tries to adopt an Agile development approach unilaterally within the enterprise, you may make things somewhat better, but you will not realize the full benefits or potential and the team may end up very frustrated and dissatisfied with the outcome. It is also likely that your agile adoption will not "stick" as people will return to their old behaviors over time. Therefore, moving to agile must be a combination of a "top-down" and "bottom-up" initiative. There is certainly a trend in many organizations to adopt agile on a small scale within departmental silos. However, this often results in a very costly infrastructure with disconnected teams, tools, infrastructure and lack of a measurement system to ensure that the organization is continually improving.
Who within an enterprise handles the planning and implementation of Agile adoption?
The responsibility for planning and adopting agile within a large organization varies greatly. However, a common pattern has emerged where it is an individual or group that has true responsibility for managing organizational change. Sometimes, it's the CIO, CTO, PMO or Senior Executive in Engineering or Research and Development. The bottom line is that organizational change rarely occurs without management support.
Where within the company should the Agile adoption be driven?
This depends on the type of business and its organizational structure, however, it usually needs to occur from within a Technology Department (e.g. R&D, Engineering) for better or worse, because the majority of the change needs to happen within their group. The paradox is that the business must be a key player in the agile adoption and has the most to win or lose, but they often lack the technical knowledge and/or change management expertise to drive this change within the organization.
Agile development will help most organizations improve their delivery of software and systems, however, it is not for everyone and it is not a silver bullet. Before a company decides to adopt agile they should carefully examine their reasons for doing so and understand whether the benefits of agile will outweigh the costs of the organizational change. This doesn't have to be, nor should it be a heavyweight evaluation.
Some of the questions you will need to answer are:
• Why do we want to be agile and what benefits will we be able to achieve?
• What about our culture, governance, people or technology will be a barrier to adopting agile and how they will be overcome?
• How will our organization achieve agility and measure its success?
• Do we have an executive sponsorship for this initiative so we can properly staff it, fund it, and remove organization impediments?
• Is our organization ready, willing and able to adopt the agile principles and values and live by them?
Below are the common business reasons for adopting an agile approach:
• improve time to market
• improve product quality and innovation
• Increase project visibility
• Improve alignment between the business and IT/Development
• increase productivity
• reduce project risk
• reduced overhead and costs
• improve employee morale
What are the reasons why an enterprise should not adopt Agile?
To understand why an organization should not adopt agile, it's important to examine the areas where organizations are struggling:
In my experience agile adoptions fail for five (5) main reasons:
In part 2 of this series we will talk about how to get started on your agile journey.