Why your business needs agile transformation (and why it’s more difficult than it seems at first)?

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Innovate or die, went the adage. Some 88 percent of respondents in last years’ survey on European companies by Deloitte admitted that their innovation budget will increase over the next two years.

Technology is the chief enabler of change and growth. To achieve new advantages, businesses usually look to IT for help to outsmart the competition. Then reality strikes. You learn that due to your current processes, a new feature will come to fruition in 6 months, and that’s if you’re lucky.

The truth is, the quicker the pace of change is, the nimbler an organisation needs to be – and that’s why IT outsourcing and Agile methodologies are great solutions.

Why is everyone talking about agile?

The basic answer is because it works. The principles of Agile have been one of the key drivers to Silicon Valley’s ability to innovate, learn, and adapt.

Since its publication in 2001, the Agile Manifesto has become a sort of a holy book to many. Very much like the Decalogue, it rests upon a global set of values, such as trust, collaboration, and responding to change over following a plan.

What started off as a set of rules for software development, Agile has been adopted in solution, product, and even organisational development. Businesses use the same underlying principles, focus more on individuals and collaboration than rigidly following processes or creating comprehensive documentation.

In turn, you can better respond to business requirements and needs. With regular releases, you can continuously validate and adjust your ideas, shorten your TTM, and subsequently, reduce the overall software development costs.

Many businesses crave agile transformation, but for the majority, it remains almost unachievable.

Why do agile transformations fail?

There are several frameworks to help translate Agile theory into practice. One of the most popular methodologies is Scrum. It enables you to define the basics, such as roles, responsibilities, artefacts, and events. Once everything is defined, a team can quickly start working in sprints, and deliver product increments every two weeks.

Sounds like a dream, right? So what could possibly go wrong?

Frameworks, such as Scrum, are great at helping you get started, but be careful. If you start following the rules to the letter and treat frameworks like a rigid process, you risk losing touch with Agile’s values, such as collaboration and communication.

Agile is not a process; it’s a mindset. It’s about giving preference to interactions over tools and procedures. Many perceive Agile methodologies as a means to develop software faster – and not as a style of working.

When developers don’t see the big picture behind the software, you can compromise the overall quality of the product. If the development team has low business awareness, they won’t think clearly about the final solution and its value for the end-user. They will merely code without any additional benefits.

Beware of silos

Instead of collaborating with the business on making a great product, developers can hide behind the process rules. They can piously debate whether the Product Owner is Agile enough or complain about user stories that fail to miss the Definition of Ready requirements.

Speaking different languages, Business and IT can possibly distance themselves. Instead of seeing themselves as members of one team, working hand in hand on a product, they can slide into a never-ending argument. With troubled communication, IT will seek haven in their separate silos, diverging from the goals, needs, and rules of the business.

This enclosure is the number one reason why agile transformation fails.

Break down silos

When IT and business start working as one organism, as one organisation, can the benefits of Agile transformation be fully reaped. Their partnership, collaboration, and shared efforts underpin the iterative delivery of product increments. That is why it’s essential to break down those silos.

The goal is to hone in on mutual understanding and dialogue. Business people don’t need to know the intricacies of software development. They need to, however, be aware how the architecture of a product depends heavily on its requirements. They can’t be changing them on an ad-hoc basis.

Software developers, on the other hand, should work on increasing their overall business awareness. In the next post, I will share some of Scalo’s proven strategies on how it can be achieved. Stay tuned!

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