Roadmap for Agile Success

Four factors that determine Agile success

Why do so many enterprise attempts to scale Agile go awry? The problem is not just a lack of training or tactics for developers, but a matter of whether the organization has put in place the right environmental factors around the development lifecycle that enable Agile to grow.

An initiative to implement Agile more broadly needs to have a roadmap – not a roadmap that focuses on methodologies exclusively, but one that ensures the right enterprise conditions are in place to permit Agile to scale. Our new Roadmap for Agile Success maps out a maturity path in four domains:

1. Agile Project Execution

Iterations and adaptive requirements are two flagship Agile concepts that organizations instill early among Agile teams. Without principled processes, however, the benefits of early software delivery from iterative development can be diminished through scope creep and overrun on time and budget. As teams gain experience in executing projects, capture the causes of deviations from the project plan to incorporate into future planning and reassess the requirements backlog periodically to ensure prioritization of the most valuable features.

2. Agile Teams

Unlike waterfall development which calls for process and standardization, scaling Agile successfully across diverse teams and project types requires flexibility in implementation. Break high-level Agile concepts down into discrete tactics for teams to introduce and master incrementally. Teams should begin with a set of core Agile practices, and grow proficiency at Agile based on the techniques that will be most beneficial to their current project.

3. Stakeholder Engagement

Agile promises to reduce the amount of time spent on costly rework, but this depends largely on maintaining an open dialog with business sponsors and end users to detail and prioritize requirements throughout the project lifecycle. Begin by introducing stakeholders to Agile concepts and business value, and demonstrate the importance of their participation throughout the lifecycle to increase involvement over time. To ensure business partner time is used for high-value activities, kick off new projects with an intense requirements capture “war room” to front-load business involvement. Identify multiple stakeholders with decision-making authority for ongoing feedback to the Agile team to minimize the time required of any individual.

4. Organization and Environment

Most organizations focus change management initiatives exclusively at the developers who will be involved in Agile projects. Equally important, however, is educating groups that must interface with Agile teams on how to work together effectively. While engagement between teams typically starts out ad hoc, some of the most mature organizations adapt coordination and prioritization processes to address the unique demands Agile projects place on interfacing teams.

Few organizations have addressed all of these areas holistically. As a result Agile projects sometimes fail to achieve the desired benefits of speed and flexibility. To examine any gaps in your organization’s implementation of Agile, contact us to receive a copy of the Roadmap for Agile Success. This document offers a distillation of many years’ experience working with Agile at scale and can help your organization develop a plan for ongoing improvement. Simply fill in the form below to receive a copy.

Following this roadmap, CEB assessed the maturity levels of more than 150 Agile teams to identify the factors that distinguish high-performing Agile teams from those that fail to realize the full potential of iterative development methods. They identified 11 key insights that can enable organizations to capture higher returns from Agile development. Read the 11 Steps for Getting Value from Agile here.