In 2011, The Wall Street Journal published the famous essay by Marc Andreessen: “Why Software Is Eating The World”. Turns out, the software was just the catalyst that brought in a paradigm change in how organizations needed to run in a digitally connected world.
Enterprises need to be able to respond quickly to the shifting trends of a marketplace stimulated by dynamic customer demands and aggressive competition. Agile has proved to be the answer repeatedly.
Understandably, many enterprises are making the move towards Agile transformation for its benefits: fast-paced innovation, better customer acquisition & retention, and higher profits.
In this blog, we have enlisted three key stages an enterprise experiences to achieve end‐to‐end agility.
1. Agile Implementation of Enterprise Strategy
Based on a decentralized definition of enterprises’ end-goals and strategy, the first step for an organization is to lay an effective agile enterprise strategy. The most important elements that combine together to build a robust strategic planning process are customer insights, market demands, regulatory needs, and technological opportunities. And its success relies on the following factors:
a) Coming up with an Evolutionary Process
Enterprises need to move away from project-based planning to theme-based planning to effectively implement an agile enterprise strategy. This involves getting a thorough knowledge of the regulatory requirements, technology opportunities, and marketing strategy in a mix of continuously shifting priorities.
b) Taking a Cross-Functional Approach to Strategic Planning
Cross-functional teams work together to brainstorm and identify the most provocative opportunities and regulatory requirements. These requirements are then put forward to the portfolio board and ranked as per priority in the strategic initiatives backlog.
c) Leveraging an Iterative and Repetitive Planning Cycle
Product development is lined-up according to needs, and then pushed forward through the iterative cycle of build and operate, analyze, and improve.
2. Mastering Agile Build at Enterprise Scale
This point in the journey demands team Sprints that are synchronized into common program increments.
The parameters that play an indispensable role in laying the foundation for scaling agile capabilities and approach at the enterprise level are Agile teams, flexible architecture, and efficient release management.
- Flexible Architecture is aligned to create releases. Micro-services and open APIs create a flexible, extensible architecture that can manage diverse technologies while reducing costs at the same time.
- Agile Teams (both onshore and offshore) are utilized to support these efforts. By establishing offshore-capable development and test environments, firms can leverage different time zones to accelerate development cycles.
- A dedicated release management function facilitates ongoing management, verification, and communication about the scope of releases in multiple iterations. Application release automation tools should be applied to support continuous delivery.
Lego’s Successful Agile Transformation Journey
LEGO embarked on the journey to agility by initiating changes at the micro (team) level. Out of 20 product teams working at the organization, initially, 5 teams were transformed into self-organizing Scrum teams. Then, gradually the remaining teams followed their footsteps.
However, to make them cooperate effectively together, LEGO followed the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and added another level of abstraction — the program level — where the teams met every 8 weeks to showcase their work, estimate risks, and plan for the next release period.
- Goodbye to the army of “managers with spreadsheets”
- Developers with more accurate estimates
- Measurable positive effect on team morale
3. Automation and Collaboration in DevOps
Following an Agile approach paves the way for an increased implementation speed, which further reduces time-to-market and brings a stable production process. And the key that unlocks this outcome along with Agile is DevOps.
DevOps, short for Development and Operations, is an amalgamated approach that brings together software development and operations in a collaborative environment supported by automated processes. It results in quick but small incremental releases of new features.
An ideal DevOps working model includes:
- Full product owner accountability
- Quicker team decisions around new features to add to new releases
- Greater overall efficiency through toolchains that handle incident management
- Testing, deployment, and monitoring
Agile Transformation Journey: ING
In 2015, the Dutch banking group ING initiated its Agile transformation journey with an aim to adjust itself in the rapidly changing digital distribution channels driven by customer expectations. In a nutshell, ING wanted to stop thinking traditionally about product marketing.
To turn their Agile dream into reality, ING invested a lot in DevOps, especially focusing on Continuous Delivery. The integration of Software Development and Operations enabled them to develop innovative new product features and helped them speed up their software releases. This transformed them into the number-one mobile bank in the Netherlands.
Building an Agile mindset and following Agile methodologies are pre‐requisites for an effective transformation. But the real beauty of Agile lies in the fact that it is a constantly evolving trend. So enterprises must keep a track of such changes and team up with those Digital Experience agencies that Design Agile, Build Agile, and Grow Agile.
Remember, to survive the cut-throat competition that Digital Era is showcasing, enterprises need to learn to embrace the new business reality: Business Agility.