Agile is an iterative and incremental process of development of a product or process in any line of business where solutions evolve through collaboration between cross-functional and self-organizational teams to deliver the highest business value in the shortest time. Agile is not just a methodology, it is a behavior and mindset described by 4 values 12 principles and manifested by several frameworks such as Scrum and Kanban. It offers a different way of working compared to the traditional way of managing the development of a product or process.
A dynamic and rapidly changing business world where the customer is at the helm poses several challenges to the business in form of fickle consumer behavior, high competition, pressure to deliver, and the emergence of new technologies. Agile helps businesses to adapt to this ever-changing technological landscape with innovation, flexibility, and most importantly customer satisfaction at its core.
Issues Addressed by Agile
The below infographic depicts some of the key issues addressed by Agile Methodology.
Shorter Development Cycles – Agile methodology allows businesses to continuously inspect and adapt the key processes and measure their progress. This drastically reduces the time to develop and implement new changes, improves the visibility and transparency of the business performance, and enables businesses to identify and exploit the bottlenecks in the value chain in the shortest possible time.
Customer Satisfaction – Agile facilitates early and continuous delivery with valuable increments where changes are welcome even in the later stages of the development lifecycle. Any changes in the customer demand can be captured and infused into the development cycle without any hindrance to the ongoing development. This helps in sustaining customer satisfaction and their competitive edge with a shorter feedback loop for changes in demand.
Organization Alignment – While traditional methods follow a siloed approach to development, Agile methodology aims at aligning all the corners of the organization with a common set of goals which brings focus to the organization and allows prioritization of key tasks.
Collaboration – Agile methodology breaks barriers to communication and promotes a culture of innovation, collaboration, and continuous learning. It emphasizes the importance of communication between business and development teams, building the right environment where innovation can thrive, and continuous improvement.
Incremental and Iterative Development – Agile methodology focuses on the development of small and manageable parts at a time through repeated cycles. The complementary nature of Incremental and Iterative development models boosts the efficiency of the development lifecycle.
Identifying the need for Agile
Every organization needs to answer three key questions that help them in identifying the need for going Agile.
Where does the organization lack agility – The first aspect that organizations need to identify is how they are reacting to the changes in the external business environment and what is stopping them from being where they want to be. They need to analyze the speed, responsiveness, and flexibility of all the teams involved in the key business processes. This helps them to zero in on the process which needs their immediate attention.
Is the organization structure silo-based – Within an organization if siloes exist, and innovation takes a back seat, achieving agility becomes impossible. Building an environment where teams can learn from one another and facilitating hassle-free collaboration channels are core principles of Agile. So, if the organization is functioning in siloes, companies need to first focus on the development of proper communication channels where the goals of the project can be constantly communicated, and all the teams working on a project can freely share and receive the desired information.
Is the organization culture turning toxic – A lack of agility dampens the speed of decision making which in turn impacts the job satisfaction levels of employees. This might result in high employee turnover, low employee morale, and poor work quality. One of the key flags that prompt businesses to go Agile is when they constantly receive complaints from customers about the quality and delivery, and employees show a lack of initiative and enthusiasm.
Challenges in being Agile
A shift from traditional models to the Agile model comes with its own set of challenges. The below infographic shows some of the key challenges in this transformation.
Cultural and mindset shift – Handling change is one of the key challenges in Agile implementation. Even after implementing Agile, many organizations often go back to their older ways of working because change is hard. Training and development, and constant workplace communication about the benefits of Agile can help organizations to build a culture where new ideas are encouraged and positive changes are accepted without resistance.
Organization’s support – One of the reasons for the failure of Agile projects is the management’s failure to understand their role in facilitating the right environment. As mentioned earlier Agile demands an organizational environment where new ideas can thrive and teams can freely collaborate. This is possible only with the support of management.
Funding and Time Frame – Organizations need to realize that being Agile consumes a considerable amount of time and resources (both financial and human). Many Agile projects are halted midway because of a lack of funding and support from the management because they are unable to see immediate results.
Being Agile – Agile is not just another buzzword in the tech world and it is not limited to software development. Many organizations claim to have achieved mastery in Agile. In reality, their focus is on Doing Agile instead of Being Agile. Organizations need to understand that it takes a ton of time and effort to achieve mastery in Agile. Agile is a philosophy, a practice, a journey, and not a destination.
Measurement of success – Based on the problem at hand and the scale of the solution businesses maintain their own Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). There is no common method or scale to measure the success of Agile. It varies from business to business.
How to start and not stop at the end of this article piece?
I would recommend starting simply by just taking this approach, which has negligible risk, simple and yet an amazingly effective positive step towards our goal of a proactive strategy
A) Take pen-paper or manual method (start now)
Start finding out the total lead time to release your product or change in the systems and start implementing the recommended strategy using your existing technology resources for a known and low-risk segment of customers within your business to find out what works and what doesn’t. Indeed, this causes efforts, but this will pave the way for better clarity around unknown risks.
B) Take help from technology
Work towards making it unattended, assisted by using Super-fast digital solution such that it works autonomously without losing its efficacy by engaging a solid, affordable Business and Technology solution partner.
If you are a CEO/COO/CIO/Managing Director/General Manager who is spending more time in reactive/preventive mode than future-facing, please reach out for an exploratory conversation.
Our Contact details
Pradeep Mishra (Director and Co-founder)
Ashok Mulchandani (Partner – Business Success and Strategic Transformation)
Amit Bhagat (Director – Business Strategy)
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