Is agile adoption the right move for your organization? That’s the big question in your mind if you’re an IT leader trying to decide who you should be shaping your development practices, your project management practices and your product and program rollout practices going forward for 2013. Is it the right solution for profitability? For customer satisfaction? For project success? For application development and deployment? Is it the better way to go? And what will it cost me to get there?
It’s important for different roles in the organization to understand how agile practices are important to their work, to the organization, and ultimately to the projects they manage and the customers they manage those projects for and with. Will it help them perform better? Will they be more successful – indeed, will the organization be more successful overall for having adopted agile development and project management practices? Once you’re immersed in the process, it’s not so difficult to understand if it was the right move for you or not, but when you’re trying to make that decision to move, then an understanding of agile and what it can mean to your organization is crucial to adoption and acceptance.
Executive and key leadership roles
From the viewpoint of the organization’s CIO, agile adoption and process implementation can set a better vision for the entire technical team. Stakeholder meetings should become easier and communication with business partners throughout the organization will likely improve. Almost overnight, the organization will have a much higher level of transparency and will involve much less of a political agenda.
As far as the organization’s CEO is concerned, a switch to agile can mean less wasted work by the organization and an improved value to investors. When implemented and performed right, costs should be down, profitability should increase, and projects can be more successful as they flow with requirements changes rather than be destroyed by them.
Agile processes create transparency for business stakeholders allowing them to see faster results, gives them a better understanding of why tasks take the time they take, and provides for a better framework for future planning efforts. In general, agile adoption usually helps senior IT leadership stay focused on strategic company initiatives and objectives while the project team can stay focused on the shorter-term goals.
Project management and team roles
Incorporating agile project management practices allows the project managers in the organization to focus on the team and jointly come up with a plan. It allows the project team to jointly identify a detailed task list with estimates for every iteration – which the project team can then jointly commit to and focus effort and attention on. This switch should also allow for a better understanding among the project managers concerning the team and chosen technology – and allow them to better support the team by removing any roadblocks encountered during the project. In reality, facilitator and roadblock remover become two key roles for the agile project manager.
Through the use of agile practices, the business analyst can stay focused on asking the right questions – the critical and tough business questions of the customer and the organization. It encourages the BA to partner with the development team to identify expected system behavior through user stories and the defined acceptance criteria.
By focusing on agile principles the technical architects can stay focused on strategic thinking that will take the organization to the next level of performance and delivery to the project customer. Developers are focused on test-driven development and receive timely feedback from testers during the development cycle. This focus should allow developers to more quickly produce error-free code and it can also greatly improve morale among the developers in the close team environment.
Call for response
Obviously, there are other roles affected by the move to an agile environment and agile processes, but in the IT world this covers many key organizational and project-related roles. What about your organization? How have you seen roles and individual affected by the move to agile processes? How successful was the move? What would you have done differently in hindsight? Let’s discuss your feedback.