Becoming Agile – It’s No Longer Optional
Author: Kevin Riggs
Most companies deliver software products by using dozens of teams focused on different stages of the product development lifecycle. And today’s competitive pressure to deliver products faster means that most firms are experimenting with agile development techniques. They often they settle on one of the many flavors of agile – Scrum being the default choice. Typically, they start with a proof of concept using a few Scrum teams, achieve some noticeable measure of success, then start to scale agile across the enterprise.
And that’s when the problems start.
Enterprise agile – versus team-level agile – requires a different organizational mindset along with new roles and practices. There are several enterprise agile frameworks available (Scrum, SAFe, LeSS and XP) that can provide a blueprint for development activities, but switching to these frameworks isn’t the biggest challenge. Enterprise agile is a radical change from how most organizations think about their product development work.
As a consultant who helps firms on their agile transformation journey, it’s clear that agile is now vital to long-term product success.
AgileCraft CEO, Steve Elliott, predicts that those Fortune 1000 companies who have resisted agile transformation will now jump on board. Steve writes that every large enterprise will sooner or later realize “…every company is now a software company…” And I’ll add to Steve’s prediction; those firms who are already on the agile transformation path will experience significant competitive advantage over the laggard adopters.
In 2014, Faisal Hoque wrote in Fast Company (“Adapt or Die, Your Business’s Only Option in an Evolving Economy”) companies require four qualities to effectively respond to market change.
1. RESILIENCE – Able to bounce back from setbacks.
2. INNOVATION – Able to develop new products that advance beyond the competition.
3. AGILITY – Able to act nimbly to seize opportunities faster than the competition.
4. ADAPTABILITY – Able to sustain innovation through repeatable processes versus happenstance.
Today’s business economy is fast and dynamic and the principal challenge facing management is the ability to quickly respond to changing market conditions. Companies that are adaptable, agile and resilient will be best equipped to experience sustained success.
Most technology companies won’t survive the next decade. Research shows that those with the highest frequency of new products deployed have a much better chance. Using agile techniques, along with continuous integration / delivery, provide the greatest chance of long-term success as compared to traditional SDLC approaches.
Product innovation excellence can’t be purchased — it’s created from three areas of development focus; 1) an adaptable organizational culture, 2) use of an agile framework and, 3) a product research program that provides higher reward development opportunities.
All three focus areas are needed, and an agile framework is good place to start.