Financial institutions across the globe are striving to adopt Agile practices across their organizations. But let’s be honest, there is a world of difference between having a plethora of Agile projects running and driving meaningful agility transformation across an organization.
Scaling Agile to create cross-functional, product-focused teams across an enterprise can bring huge added value. Without properly scaling, an organization can end up with silos of Agile delivery functions – nothing more than pockets of increased productivity that cannot spread their benefit beyond their own bubble. If done successfully, scaling can reduce dependencies and complexity and empower individual lines of business to respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of their customers.
Achieving this, however, requires intentional and thoughtful design from the beginning. The most successful organizations will share several things in common, and we will explore those trends in this article.
After an organization has undertaken the initial task of proving the viability of Agile within their business, scaling to fit the entire organization must be a fast follower. Rolling out Agile on an enterprise scale takes considerable effort and oversight and can quickly become disjointed - especially if siloed Agile units are not properly coordinated across the enterprise. This necessitates a centralized Agile transformation office to coach and advise different teams, functions, and business units on their transition to Agile.
The “Agile Command Center” serves as a centralized resource to support not only the Agile teams across the enterprise but also the full spectrum of stakeholders, shared services functions, and – most critically – leadership. It gives unified guidance that speaks with one voice as opposed to individual and disconnected streams of support. The Command Center should be staffed with resources from various business and technology backgrounds who can advise on Agile topics across product, technology development, architecture, and testing. Agile Transformation Office resources should be made available to all employees to facilitate the proper adoption of Agile practices across the organization.
Establishing and properly staffing value-centric, cross-functional teams is an important piece of scaled Agile, but equally as important is the implementation of tools and technologies that will accelerate the transformation of the organization. Even well-staffed and well-trained teams will struggle if not given the proper tools to succeed.
A variety of different digital tools and platforms for project and product management, DevOps, test automation, and other components of agility exist, and many serve their purposes well. The key is finding and implementing the technologies that best serve the goals and objectives of your organization. Your organizational needs may require a standard set of tools or a more bespoke arrangement.
The best place to start is by engaging Agile leaders to gather their technology preferences and , demo new digital tools to discern what will best support new processes and the organization’s needs. Finally, ensure teams have access to these tools across the enterprise. What many organizations cannot afford is the time and buy-in lost to force-fitting legacy PPM and Technology Delivery tools into a modern, Agile delivery framework.
Once the organization’s business units and teams are operating under the principles of business agility, the final step is to apply those same concepts to enterprise activities beyond just product initiatives to things like resourcing, budgeting, project portfolio management, and even risk and compliance.
Applying Agile concepts and principles at the highest level of the organization requires both a structural and cultural shift to business agility. Once this has been achieved, Agile is the organization’s norm, and strategy can be iterated on indefinitely to achieve sustainable high-performance, high-quality customer outcomes, and enhanced shareholder value.
Scaling Agile is a process which requires considerable support from organizational leaders and a solid commitment to continuous improvement throughout an enterprise. The basic steps, as outlined here, will drive an organization to that goal: creating centralized guidance, providing the right tools for the job, and culture-driven support. When executed correctly, scaled Agile can dramatically improve innovation and adaptability across even the largest global enterprises.