Agile. It’s the state of being able to move quickly and easily. But in our world of financial services, it’s also a term loved by techies and consultants alike, relating to software development and delivery methodologies. So, what does this buzzword really mean for companies – and more importantly, what definitely doesn’t it mean? Capco’s agile team shares their view.
1. Training your company in agile ways of working makes you agile
Wrong. Although 35 percent* of companies consider a lack of training as a major challenge in becoming ‘agile’, this is often overshadowed by the stakeholder’s inability to stop micromanaging their projects and empowering agile teams. Any fear of failure should be eliminated. It goes back to the old adage to “fail harder”. After all, learning what is most valuable to customers requires a mindset that champions experimentation and iteration.
2. A company does agile
We don’t think agile is something companies can do or use. Agile is a state of being; it is fluid and immersive. You are either agile or not. Becoming agile is a voyage of discovery that requires systematic change and commitment across from all aspects of the organization.
3. It’s difficult to assess the success of agile
You might not always be able to easily quantify the direct impact being agile has had on your end-of-year returns, but we believe being agile adds value to your business from beginning to end. You save time and money by not building the things that never should have been built, in ways that take longer. Your teams become more productive and satisfied with their work while creating an MLP (minimum lovable product) every time; your customers receive what is most valuable to them; and your business benefits from faster ROI and a lower risk of complete project failure.
4. It’s ad-hoc and doesn’t involve a lot of planning
Waterfall and agile projects deal with uncertainty in different ways. Whereas traditional approaches have a stricter scope, agile-ists believe change is inevitable – and that scope will fluctuate between iterations. However, don’t let that fool you. Pre-planning is core to agile, all the way from the product backlog creation in Sprint 0, to release planning, to next-sprint planning and the team’s time management for each time-boxed iteration.
5. Scaling agile should be done in one go
Did you know that British businesses wasted an estimated £37 billion on failed agile IT projects last year?** Why do projects fail you ask? Firstly, they neglect that businesses evolve, so a one-off transformation initiative isn’t going to offer the flexibility sought. Secondly, expecting people to change their mindset from one day to the next is impractical – people take time to change, its our nature. Thirdly, they struggle with the idea of stripping away all bureaucratic layers and instead go for a quick win - and end up adding a sparkly new ‘streamlined’ layer on top of their existing, overcomplicated legacy systems and governance.