A Discussion About the Agile Mindset, Culture Change, Persistent Challenges and Common Practices Companies Face When Scaling Agile
Digital Transformation is changing everything. Economies of scale and pure distribution strength are much less potent than they once were. The new metrics for leadership are all digital: Customer experience, software product portfolios, social networks, supplier channels and business operations. Digital technology has changed the definitions of marketplaces, partners and customers. It has increased the speed of innovation necessary to compete.
Agile software development promises frequent delivery of high quality software in response to changing market needs, making it an integral part of Digital Transformation.
Many organizations have benefitted from using Agile methods for individual engineering teams and single projects. However, to keep pace with the challenges of Digital Transformation, organizations are actively working to expand their use of Agile software development by adopting it across entire product portfolio(s)—covering the complete digital delivery lifecycle. This magnitude of change affects whole organizations and the culture. It’s frequently referred to as Agile at scale.
For any company working to scale Agile, it is not a quick transformation. It impacts the whole organization, and takes commitment, planning, budget and cultural change. This white paper provides guidance for companies seeking to climb the curve to Agile at scale.
What Does it Mean to be Agile at Scale?
Agile at scale goes beyond simply launching more development teams—the scope is much bigger than that. The work teams deliver align from single projects to full products and product portfolios. The efforts of teams are measured based on progress and to demonstrate alignment with business objectives and improving customer experience.
At the center of enabling this alignment are three themes: collaboration, communication and orchestration which aptly describe the model of engagement within teams, across multiple teams and to broader stakeholders involved.
In addition to the standard roles on Agile teams, there are cross-team roles that are integral for alignment, including architects, designers, security experts, quality assurance, product owners, product managers and so on. These roles provide broader perspectives, domain expertise, and customer needs/feedback, in order to provide guiding input into teams.
True to the original Manifesto, Agile at scale is iterative, evidence-driven and continuously improving. Analytics that capture outputs and outcomes can help organizations see this as more than a product development process, and understand the business value agility brings to the company—as well as, identify areas for improvement. In the Agile mindset, continuous adjustments based on good analytics (outputs and outcomes) lead to continuous improvement and best practices.