The Agile Transformation Roadmap
For survival, businesses must balance sustainable infrastructure with the ability to quickly adapt to evolving customer needs, resource availability, and market competition. Agile methodologies enable project teams to get deliverables to market faster through iterative development processes. The same mentality of continuous improvement and incorporating innovation can be applied to an entire organization when an Agile transformation is pursued.
On this page:
- Agile Transformation for an Organization is Not Agile Adoption for a Project
- Agile Transformation Roadmap
- Agile Transformation Roadmap | Development of Strategy and Roles
- The Benefits of An Agile Transformation Roadmap
- Sustaining the Agile Transformation Changes
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Agile Transformation for an Organization is Not Agile Adoption for a Project
Teams using Agile frameworks, such as SAFe®, Scrum, or Kanban, can be a decisive competitive advantage. When managed effectively, Agile teams bring benefits, including quick responses to changing customer needs, acting upon innovative ideas in a timely manner, and shorter time to market. Frequently, Agile methodologies are used for digital or software development teams. However, having a team or teams using Agile tools does not make the entire organization Agile.
Agile Transformation Roadmap
Agile applied at an enterprise level means that all employees fully embrace the underlying tenants of the Agile manifesto: collaborate and communicate in a timely and open manner with a focus on customer needs. The development of Agile teams includes maintaining flexibility in the approach, openness to trying new things, and frequent communication; the development of an Agile organization requires the same.
If an organization was not “born” agile, meaning Agile in all ways from day one, then there will be a transformation period from a traditional hierarchical structure to the more fluid Agile model. Global consulting firm McKinsey shares this insight: “Traditional organizations are built around a static, siloed, structural hierarchy, whereas agile organizations are characterized as a network of teams operating in rapid learning and decision-making cycles.” Understanding how to incorporate agility into the organization must be coupled with the total commitment to Agile at all levels of the organization for transformation to occur.
Agile Transformation Roadmap | Development of Strategy and Roles
There is not a single “How to Undergo Agile Transformation,” as the speed and scope should be customized to the organization. Project Management Institute (PMI)‘s Disciplined Agile® (DA) provides a tool kit and best practices to ensure a Road Map meets an organization’s specific needs.
DA Agile Transformation Strategy
Developing a Disciplined Agile® Agile Transformation Roadmap is not about implementing a specific or single approach such as SAFe® or Scrum. Agile transformation is about the big picture, with an enterprise focus encompassing all aspects of the business to ensure the organization can fully maximize the benefits of Agile as a way of working.
Step One | Align
From Disciplined Agile® Agile Transformation Roadmap: “You start where you are and identify the transformation path(s) that are right for you given your current situation. Successful transformation strategies are fit-for-purpose, reflecting the context that you face.”
Step Two | Improve
From Disciplined Agile® Agile Transformation Roadmap: ”An organization that has never attempted an agile transformation, or who has had several failed attempts, should follow a different improvement path than an organization that has successfully adopted an agile framework such as Scrum or SAFe®.“
Additionally, different business areas require a different approach to transformation. For example, Finance and Human Resources generally differ from each other and from Software Development work. As part of the enterprise Agile Roadmap Transformation, allowances must be made to balance the type of work and the people doing the work.
DA Agile Transformation Strategy | Step Three | Thrive
From Disciplined Agile® Agile Transformation Roadmap: ”In all cases, you will apply the DA tool kit to help evolve into a learning organization. This should be your true improvement goal.”
Determine Transformation Roles and Responsibilities
An Agile Transformation is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it something you can add as a bullet item on someone’s job description. The DA Agile Transformation resource center offers these role recommendations:
DA Agile Transformation Role | Chief Transformation Officer (CTO)
An executive that is responsible for leading organization-wide transformations. This role must be fully integrated with the company’s executive team as Agile transformation requires collaboration and integration across the enterprise.
DA Agile Transformation Role | Enterprise Coach
These coaches work directly with executives, senior coaches, and team coaches to guide improvements and foster Agile thinking. The Disciplined Agile Value Stream Consultant (DAVSC) training is one resource that refines coaching skills specific to this role.
DA Agile Transformation Role | Senior Coach
A Senior coach is responsible for helping teams with their Ways of Working (WoW) and Ways of Thinking (WoT). Senior Coaches are highly recommended to have specialized training and certification, such as a Disciplined Agile Coach (DAC).
DA Agile Transformation Role | Team Coach
In alignment with the CTO, Enterprise Coach, and Senior Coaches, team coaches work within an assigned team or a group of teams to enable Agile thinking and processes consistent with the enterprise. Embedding someone with a Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM) or Disciplined Agile Senior Scrum Master (DASSM) certification can help increase team success rates.
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The Benefits of an Agile Transformation Roadmap
Without clearly stated goals, dedicated resources, and a plan, the development of an Agile transformation, like any large-scale effort, will result in a costly waste of time. An Agile Transformation Roadmap should be customized to the organization and reflect:
- strategy and steps
- roles and responsibilities
- timeline with target milestones
- support resources available to all employees to enable Agile work
With a well-planned and consistently supported roadmap, the organization can realize many benefits, including increased productivity, efficiency, and teamwork.
Agile Roadmap Benefit | Alignment of Purpose Across the Organization Fuels Productivity
Integration of Agile methodologies, like Lean project management, helps teams focus on the work that will impact the business and customers the most. Reduction of unnecessary or extraneous work is more likely in the Agile environment due to continuous improvement processes.
Agile Roadmap Benefit |Alignment of Resources Across the Organization Enables Efficiencies
In an Agile organization, personnel can consistently focus on the work of the highest value, and resources are shared among teams to better manage costs. It also means that duplicative work is more likely to be prevented as the teams have insight into the work across the larger organization.
Agile Roadmap Benefit |Alignment of Resources Across the Organization Fosters Teamwork
One potential change from a traditional structure to Agile is empowering teams. In the Agile environment, multidisciplinary teams work closely together and depend on each other for sharing pertinent information as they have shared accountability in decisions and results. Empowered teams are more likely to pursue creative solutions, have higher morale, and consistently achieve positive results.
Sustaining the Agile Transformation Changes
No training is needed to know that change is often hard and that system change is not only hard but difficult to maintain. Agile transformation changes are no exception, and when embarking on adopting Agile across an organization, it is important to think beyond just “we must be Agile” and have a Roadmap that addresses change sustainability.
Keep the Values at the center of the Transformation
An Agile transformation within one team, for example, your Digital Experience team, is challenging. An Agile transformation across all teams is a much more significant challenge. Changes will include Ways of Working (WoW), Ways of Thinking (WoT), and breaking down old habits. Put the Agile principles at the center of the change to clearly show how the transformation furthers company values. Employees who know the “why” of a change are more inclined to participate.
Communities of Practice (CoP)
One benefit of a fully Agile organization is the emphasis on learning and sharing knowledge. As shared in the DA resources, a Community of Practice (CoP) is a powerful means to empower teams and enhance critical knowledge sharing regardless of one’s role in the organization.
DA offers this description of a Communities of Practice (CoPs): “foster social learning that occurs and shared practices that emerge and evolve when people who are distributed throughout an organization and have shared passion and expertise to collaborate to evolve these practices.”
Teams drive agile. There must be a supportive organization with a culture that enables teams who self-organize and make decisions based on maximizing business value. Leaders in an Agile organization are there not to dictate how each job should be done but to champion values, provide new challenges to motivate the teams, and support the team’s efforts to achieve business results.
Agile transformation is more than just using Agile methods; there is a culture underneath that prioritizes learning and sharing knowledge to help others. Establishing and maintaining a knowledge base models the importance of continuous learning to the organization while simultaneously providing a valuable resource.
An Agile transformation is not when a few scattered teams start using Agile methodologies. Agile Transformation is about full enterprise commitment to continually refining and improving all processes and practices coupled with being flexible in pursuing customer needs and business value.
The development of an Agile Transformation Roadmap is a keystone to transformation. As Steve Denning’s stated in his Forbes article “The 12 Stages Of The Agile Transformation Journey,”:… the journey will include radical shifts in attitudes, values, mindsets, ways of thinking, and ways of interacting with the world—in effect, a change in organizational culture.”
To achieve a true transformation from a traditional to an Agile organization, there must be shifts in process and culture, not just one or the other. Additionally, incremental changes must be reinforced and sustained so that they stick. And there must be an executive-level commitment to the Agile values – even in the face of challenges and resistance.
Agile Transformation can be a means for an organization to shift from scrambling to survive the latest market shift to one that flows with the winds of change to have a long history of success.
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