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Agile in the Enterprise

IT organizations are compelled to re-build, transform, accelerate, align and become immersed in the business. Expanding the skills you need, re-tooling the skills you have, adapting to the persistent scarcity of those you don’t, reconsidering roles of partners and moving from Waterfall to Agile. Acknowledging you can’t get there alone, this drives a demand for a new type of consulting partner.

A Roadmap to Agile Transformation

Converting from Waterfall to Agile is a journey. Like all journeys, it’s best to have a route avoiding road construction.

Agile has become the preferred method of software development for the following reasons:

  • Agile is transparent, promoting closer collaboration with the business, and enabling clients to become highly involved throughout the project
  • Agile offers early and predictable delivery, meaning new features are delivered quickly and frequently giving organizations the opportunity to release software earlier than planned
  • Agile allows for easier change, so organizations have the option to constantly refine and reprioritize the overall product backlog
  • Agile improves quality. By breaking down the project in manageable components, the project team can achieve high quality development

But, the journey to Agile has some conditions. The deployment of digital transformation requires people. For the foreseeable future (the next five years) corporate IT will be required to augment its staff with third-party resources like onsite contractors, offshore support, or U.S. onshore consultants as IT will either not be able to recruit the necessary people due to a resource shortage in its geographic location, or not want to hire people as it does not want the fixed cost associated with a specific technology. In either circumstance, an Agile journey will include the integration of at least one third party.

Limitations of Pure Agile Methodologies

The strengths of Agile is speed-to-market, higher quality development and transparency. Getting the right product to the right users in time to capture the opportunity; there are underlying weaknesses.

  • Agile, requires product owners, who are responsible for the end result. However in most situations the users or product owners don’t know what they don’t or should know. Their availability is also inconsistent
  • Agile has a tendency to marginalize the complexity of an enterprise project
  • Agile is an effective and aggressive methodology for Phase 2 and beyond projects. The problem with Phase 1 Agile projects is the lack of readiness with the business and IT. Backlogs aren’t built. The minimum viable product is not established

The above points are examples that Agile experience and know-how hasn’t yet caught up to Agile theory. Agile is good. It’s good for IT and it’s good for the business. It solves a speed-to-market issue while pushing everyone to a common goal - the success of the next sprint. The problem with Agile for the less than experienced team is it’s unforgiving.

Adapting Agile for the Enterprise

We believe Agile best practices, especially in the domain of enterprise applications, will continuously improve as Adapted Agile becomes field driven. Based on our experience, we have several conclusions on enterprise Agile projects.

Adaptive Agile for the enterprise will be different than Agile for point solutions

An enterprise application, typically a larger and more complex install will require modification to the Agile framework at the front and back end of the deployment in order to accommodate the increased business requirements like gathering information, testing and defect resolution.

Application Development projects require Adaptive Agile

Application development projects for enterprise solutions will require a modified agile approach for several reasons. First, the business or end users are typically deficient in understanding the total scope of work, so it’s necessary to do a greater amount of analysis before any development takes place. Second, any comprehensive testing cannot be accomplished in an Agile framework. Thirdly in our experience senior business owners are uncomfortable with a process that does not recognize and explicitly plan for mitigating the high profile risk associated with enterprise grade applications.

Adaptive Agile will eventually be surrounded by best practices

This is akin to the 1990’s when most management consulting companies marketed a proprietary waterfall deployment process as the cheaper, quicker, faster and better methodology. In reality quicker, cheaper, faster and better was a combination of best practices that evolved as a result of the successes and failures of a deployment. We predict Agile will follow the same road.

Adapted Agile is a Hybrid Agile model

The journey to Agile best practices in the enterprise, will create a different Agile model, a hybrid Agile model, meaning a combination of Agile and Waterfall. Organizations need to be ruthless in assessing their own readiness and we council that there is no place for vanity in reaching a conclusion. We predict this hybrid Agile approach or Adaptive Agile will be the offspring of today’s modified Agile strategy.