CHAPTER 20: EXPANDING AGILE66
After your department has had the opportunity to trial Agile methodologies for a few months, it would be valuable for you to step back and ask yourself the following questions:
• Are teams delivering high business-value solutions within available budgets?
• Are the stakeholders getting the outcomes that they need?
• Are staff members happier to be working in a high-communication environment, rather than in a documentation-centric one?
• Is the quality of their work better than before?
The answers to these questions should provide you with sufficient information to consider broadening the use of Agile methodologies to other projects in your department. (Or, conversely, to decide that Agile methodologies are not suited to your department and should not be extended further; in which case, the low start-up costs of Agile have enabled you to make that decision without foregoing a huge upfront investment.)
One of the greatest advantages of Agile is that, in the same way that these approaches protect the organization from the risk of large upfront commitments, they also do not require a large upfront commitment from the organization in order to be used. Agile approaches are not highly regimented management structures that require hundreds of staff to attend workshops (and receive doorstops of documentation) before they can be used in the organization. Other areas can immediately apply many of the core Agile approaches (and principles) described in this book without attending week-long training courses, acquiring mounds of manuals, or enlisting the services of high-end consulting firms.
This means that using Agile approaches can be a cost-effective, low-risk option for other areas in the organization to trial.
So, if you decide to expand the use of Agile methodologies to other areas within (or outside of) your department, the next step will be to establish a strategy for broadening awareness of the value of Agile methodologies – and for encouraging other areas to trial them.
This strategy should include four key elements:
1. Information: educating staff on the quantitative and qualitative business value of Agile methodologies. This can be done through:
• Internal “road show” events to show people the tangible outcomes from your Agile work
• Putting materials on your corporate intranet, including the details in Chapter 3: The Core Business Benefits of Agile
• Documenting the outcomes of your trial project(s) as a case study for other teams.
2. Motivation: using the information above, along with your influence, to encourage specific people to trial Agile methodologies in their areas (e.g. those who are more open to trying new approaches, or those who have had historical problems with their software development projects)
3. Selection: helping interested teams to select the Agile methodology(ies) that are best suited to their activities (using your experience, along with the tools provided in Chapter 9: Selecting the Right Agile Approach for Your Needs)
4 Collaboration: providing assistance (and, where appropriate, experienced Agile team members) to help each area in their initial application of Agile methodologies. This includes educating the area on the principles and practices of their selected Agile methodology via:
• An easy-to-use guide that explains the basics of Agile methodologies (such as the “Agile Cookbook” that was created by BT)
• Internal training sessions to walk through and demonstrate the methodologies
• Industry resources, such as those listed in Chapter 21: More Information on Agile.
You may also choose to position yourself as an Agile champion within the organization, using industry case studies (such as Microsoft and Yahoo!) and industry research (such as that by Forrester and VersionOne) to support your decision to trial Agile methodologies. Your experience with Agile methodologies, coupled with your influence, can help to position future Agile teams to avoid the most common traps that organizations encounter in their implementation of these methodologies.
As the adoption of Agile approaches grows and matures in your department, you can refine your use of Agile by enlisting qualified consultants, participating in online Agile forums, and reading Agile resources.
Over time, you may want to also consider providing staff with more formal guidance on adopting and applying Agile approaches. The IT industry has benefited greatly by having formal training and certification courses to teach people how to more effectively apply Agile methods (such as Scrum) in their software development projects.
Another key advantage is that, once Agile approaches are in place, the infrastructure needed to sustain these approaches is relatively small (mostly ongoing staff education and resource allocation to participate on Agile teams).
Added to these benefits is the fact that there is a groundswell of resources available for Agile teams to learn from the community of Agile practitioners who have been refining the approaches for the past 20 years (see Chapter 21: More Information on Agile for a list of these resources). So, even the costs of ongoing staff education can be reduced by leveraging the expertise (and generosity) of others in the Agile community who are working together to improve the processes for all organizations.
All of this means that introducing Agile approaches to other areas of your department – and your organization – can be a relatively low-cost activity with significant ongoing returns; and there is no one more qualified than you to make this happen.
Agile approaches have historically had a slow emergence in traditional organizations. Because they present a decidedly different way of working, much of the adoption of Agile approaches has been due to participants publicizing the exceptional results that they experienced – and then encouraging other areas of the organization to trial the approaches. In some cases, members of successful Agile teams have also strategically volunteered to work with other departments on their Agile projects, to enable them to directly benefit from their experience.
Adopting Agile approaches may seem like a radical shift for some organizations, but they have also been proven to produce radically improved outcomes for those who have. This is exactly why the effectiveness of Agile approaches needs to be promoted by the people who have benefited most from their success.
66Several of the strategies identified for expanding Agile work have been adapted from the equivalent sections in Agile Productivity Unleashed: Proven Approaches for Achieving Real Productivity Gains in Any Organization, Jamie Lynn Cooke, IT Governance Publishing (2010) and Agile: An Executive Guide — Real results from IT budgets, Jamie Lynn Cooke, IT Governance Publishing (2011).