The benefits of agile transformation are similar to scrum or other type software development methodology transformations. While it’s true that benefits such as early, predictable, quality software delivery, embracing frequently changing requirements and an increased customer focus are benefits that will be enjoyed as a result of an agile transformation, there are many other benefits related solely to transformation that deserve mention.
Here are two major top benefits an organization can experience by applying agile values listed in theAgile Manifesto. (link to: agilemanifesto.org)
By placing people and interactions over process and tools, an organization will enjoy better collaboration which reduces waste. Teams that learn to commit as a team, practice respect and speak honestly will help increase performance.
Also, by putting the focus on people first, employee morale tends to increase. An agile environment does not have room for dictators, there is respect for work-life balance and feedback is frequent and often. People will be excited about coming to work. There will be less missed days and more engagement which also results in better performance and productivity.
We are in the times where social media and job-related sites provide many opportunities for people to share opinions and experiences regarding their place of work. There are various places where potential candidates or customers may reference to see what type of culture an organization has and if their employees are treated well and will consider this information when making deciding whether or not to engage with the organization. By valuing individuals and interactions, an organization will have better performance, employee retention and will also create a reputation of a great place to work.
Responding to change over following a plan is another value that agile respects. End users of software don’t typically know what they want until they see it. It simply does not make sense to create a plan where software is not going to be usable until months in the future. Too many factors can arise which results in the final software either being no longer relevant or wanted. Customer demands and needs have changed and organizations need to work differently in order to accommodate those fast changing demands. Agility embraces and teaches people to accept frequently changing priorities.
Teams learn to delivery “just enough” to satisfy the end user’s needs so end users are able to enjoy and utilize working software sooner with low or no defects. This also allows teams to demonstrate software often to key stakeholders which builds a relationship of trust and predictability. This can have many positive effects throughout an organization.
An agile transformation involves more than choosing a methodology or framework and adhering to those processes and rituals. One of the common agile transformation pitfalls is assuming that implementation of a methodology such as Scrum is the same as transformation.
Agile transformation is being agile and is best defined as the overhaul of a change in culture to one that embraces engagement, creativity, continuous learning and innovation. Companies such as Google, Spotify and PayPal should come to mind when one thinks of an “agile” organization.
Changing behavior and thought patterns is one of the biggest agile transformation challenges. This is due to years of conditioning people to work in command and control environments where individual opinions or ideas are not always welcomed, time was always a constraint or even egos and politics squashed the innovative and creative aspirations in individuals.
How far an organization is willing to be agile will enable or prohibit an organization from fully enjoying the vast amount of benefits an agile transformation will provide.
Some other common challenges and pitfalls include:
Creating a culture of agile behavior does not happen overnight. In fact, realistically it can take an average of 2-3 years to reap all the benefits agile transformation has to offer.
Another common agile transformation pitfall is the belief that agile transformation only applies to the IT departments. The agility mindset must permeate throughout an organization at all levels and if there is a lack of support from executives, this discourages others to behave differently. Executives will also be required to change their mindset in order for an agile transformation to be successful.
One of the common agile transformation questions is which metrics are valuable? Agile doesn’t necessarily apply to software development so it would be impossible for the inventors of agile to predict which metrics will be valuable to an organization. While different methodologies have metrics that can be used to determine the health of an iteration (XP) or spring (Scrum) and to some degree, software quality, there are no metrics when simply following agile values.
Metrics should be explored and agreed upon in the very beginning planning stages of an agile transformation. It is also recommended that software quality is assessed and baselined and a schedule of future “check points” created so that software quality can be assessed at regular intervals. This will help an organization assess how an agile transformation is affecting software quality. Some of this data can also be used when calculating return on investment (ROI) and other business value metrics.
CAST provides measurement to organizations undergoing agile transformations. These metrics are reported through a set of audience-tailored dashboards that provide visibility for managing complex transformation initiatives.