How to Facilitate an Agile Transformation
This article presents a framework to successfully facilitate an agile transformation, the agile way.
Agile and DevOps are two sides of the same coin. Agile, as defined by Rose Nyte, is a set of four values and twelve principles (also known as the Agile Manifesto) used to guide decision-making and practices throughout the software development lifecycle — while DevOps spans the entire delivery pipeline, from development and test to deployment to operations.
Together, agile and DevOps are the combination of culture, philosophy, methodologies, infrastructure and tools that defines teams’ ability to successfully deliver applications and services. Teams implementing agile and DevOps leverage these capabilities to accelerate the delivery of business value to their organization, resulting in faster times to market, higher quality and greater competitive advantage.
The sole purpose of an agile transformation is to gain the benefits of agile and DevOps.
From a business perspective, other key benefits of agile and DevOps are getting more value for the same investment and/or reduced delivery costs; improved delivery predictability; increased visibility; and improved business and IT alignment. The presence of these benefits expands as the influence of agile and DevOps improves the culture and ways of working across the organization’s ecosystem, from the IT organization to ultimately the entire organization.
When an organization is not getting the benefits of Agile and DevOps, it’s not getting the business value it’s looking for from the IT organization.
Organizations’ executives are looking to consistently increase the value delivered to the organizations’ stakeholders. IT leaders understand the value agile and DevOps bring to their organizations, but often struggle with their ability to translate these benefits from an IT perspective into the business value that is delivered to their organization.
The IT organization needs to set itself up to consistently generate increasing business value.
The business value delivered by an IT organization must be traceable, visible, actual and predictable. This is the only way the organization’s executives will recognize it and trust that the IT organization will consistently deliver it. The traceability of metrics is core to the IT organization’s ability to visibly demonstrate the actual business value that is delivered. It creates a direct connection from the organization key business metrics to the IT organization’s metrics, to delivery metrics and down to the individual teams’ metrics.
When this traceability of metrics is created and operationalized, IT leaders are able to show the transformation’s progress in a language the organization’s executives understand and value. They are also be able to demonstrate how their transformation strategy and investments will consistently generate increasing business value.
What is an agile transformation?
From an agile transformation perspective, being agile means having agile and DevOps operationalized at scale. It means having a high level of proficiency in the application of agile and DevOps capabilities, across the entire organization’s ecosystem.
The depth of agile maturity includes the operationalization of the agile/DevOps mindset, values and principles in everything the organization does, as well as demonstrating a depth of software craftsmanship that infuses principles and practices of agile and DevOps into the code and delivery process.
The expansion of agile and DevOps across the organization’s ecosystem can apply to a specific department, like IT, or to an entire business, including the organization’s suppliers and customers. The increase in agile and DevOps proficiency across the IT organization provides clear and measurable benefits like efficiency, quality, predictability and visibility. However, because both agile and DevOps enable the organization’s entire value chain, keeping them confined to IT will limit the value gained by the organization.
The reason for not getting the benefit of agile and DevOps is unique to each organization.
Each organization is unique, and each team forming the organization is unique too. They have unique goals and visions, priorities, current states, contexts and unique definitions of what a successful transformation looks like. This also means that each organization and team have unique paths and journeys to increasing their agile and DevOps maturity.
The agile way to transform your organization and teams
There is no cookie-cutter approach to transforming your organization. Anyone who says there is, is in the cookie-cutter business, not in the agile transformation business. The best path for your organization and teams is the one that recognizes, reveals and values their uniqueness and builds from there.
One way to do this is to prioritize your organization and teams’ transformation efforts using WWT’s state-of-the-art agile and/or DevOps assessments.
An agile transformation follows the principles of agile and enables the teams to change the way they work, while delivering on their commitments. Agile and DevOps are gradually operationalized by the teams, in short cycles of fully implemented changes — between 15 and 30 days.
The teams always implement the one or few changes that will most accelerate their momentum. At the end of the change cycle, teams track the impact of the changes they made, learn from their experience, make the necessary adjustments and identify the next most important changes to be implemented.
During an agile transformation, the aspects of agile and DevOps that are operationalized at each cycle is unique to them, but builds on and supports the other teams’ changes. Some changes are internal to a team’s processes, while others focus on building their CI/CD pipeline or fixing a challenging interaction with another team or stakeholder.
Taken together, the teams’ successive changes lead the organizational system to gradually increase its agile and DevOps maturity. This leads the IT organization to gradually, consistently and visibly deliver on its commitments, and leads business executives to gain trust in IT’s ability to consistently generate increasing business value for the organization.
How we facilitate your agile transformation
There are two key paths we recommend to our clients when they are looking to gain the benefits of agile and DevOps: the Pilot & Expand, and the Tune the System & Mature approaches. The goal of the Pilot & Expand approach is to demonstrate what a high performing team can do for the organization, while the goal of the Tune the System & Mature approach is to demonstrate and experience the benefits of high-performing agile and DevOps organizational systems.
Both approaches will eventually lead your organization to experience Agile and DevOps operationalized at scale, but the early change goals, metrics and transformation success indicators will be different.
The right path for your organization depends on your organization’s context: your business and change goals, current state, budget and time constraints.
Why use these paths to govern your agile transformation?
Following one of these two paths enables your organization to develop visible and measurable momentum towards agile and DevOps operationalized at scale by deploying a governance focused on accelerating your organization’s journey. This transformation governance ensures decisions, prioritizations, investments, strategies and communications are consistently supporting and building your organization’s desired transformation momentum.
Pilot & Expand
The Pilot & Expand approach is a pilot-based transformation that begins with a pilot development team to showcase to the rest of the organization what a high-performing team can do and achieve. With this approach, we quickly help one or a few teams team become high-performing teams by pairing each team member with a technical mentor and supporting them as needed with an agile coach, QA tech mentor, UX consultant and DevOps consultant.
With the Pilot & Expand approach, the expansion of agile and DevOps across the organization is achieved by multiplying the number of pilot teams by gradually integrating and automating the delivery process — and by improving their interactions with the rest of the organization to better support agile and DevOps.
Tune the System & Mature
The Tune the System & Mature approachis a system-based transformation that helps the organization as a whole better operate as an agile and DevOps organization. The journey begins by engaging leaders and teams in shaping their organization, focusing on improving how teams interact with each other and deliver working software.
With this approach, our agile coaches, tech mentors, QA tech mentors and DevOps consultants work across teams to help them design and deploy small fully implemented changes in two to four week transformation cycles. This enables the organization to gradually experience the benefits of becoming increasingly agile as a system.
With the Tune the System and Mature approach, expansion across the organization is achieved by deepening the maturity and increasing the reach of agile and DevOps across the organization’s ecosystem.
If your organization is about to start its journey towards agile or DevOps; you feel your organization is not getting the benefits of agile or DevOps; or you’d like to accelerate or unlock your organization’s adoption of agile and DevOps practices, it may be time to assess where you are at in your journey.
A 5-week, state-of-the-art assessment from WWT will enable your organization and teams to understand what is holding them back and help you create a roadmap to accelerate your agile and DevOps adoption progress. We also can do an in-depth code assessment to reveal how your teams’ coding practices are supportive of Agile and DevOps and help you create a plan to develop the software craftsmanship of your teams.
To get started, please complete the form on our Contact Us page. We’re looking forward to helping accelerate your transformation.