Faster time-to-market, greater flexibility, more value for the customer, increased team motivation: agility at scale is the dream of organizations in both the private and public sectors. And for a good reason: its expected benefits are promising. But how to get started with one’s enterprise agile transformation? Maybe by choosing the most suitable method of agility at scale? Before that, it’s important to be aware of the cultural changes this agile transformation requires and also to accept that it’s a continuous evolutionary process. Here are some good practices to deal with it.
First questioning, then transforming
Agility at scale is not about IT teams, it’s an Enterprise matter.
Every organization aiming at deploying agility at enterprise level is concerned by agility at scale, no matter its size. This way, all levels of the organization are involved: the strategic, managerial and operational ones. This enterprise agile transformation is a mid/long-term adventure that inevitably pushes to question some of the pillars of a given company.
Deep cultural changes
Becoming an agile enterprise comes with a deep cultural transformation; it actually requires a continuous investment over the time, some new methods and tenacity since pitfalls will inevitably show up. The first step towards change involves the psychological aspect: before even considering to implement new tools or a new framework, it is essential that employees realize why change is necessary as to be ready for it, embracing it. Therefore, the enterprise agile transformation requires to make the culture of every employee evolve. In a nutshell, an agile enterprise represents first and foremost a set of values, a way of being, a state of mind on a daily basis.
An evolution of middle management positions
Agility at scale puts customers at the very heart of all enterprise projects. Hierarchical organizations are being abandoned in favor of a “product-oriented” organization: middle management positions must reinvent themselves and find their new place in it. In fact their role considerably evolves within an agile enterprise, since employees become self-organized, enjoy more autonomy and have greater latitude to take initiatives. So, the manager must learn to delegate, to support multidisciplinary teams, to set a course for future actions rather than deciding on everything. In other words, the manager here becomes a gardener, a leader-servant, rather than a controller.
An evolution of collaboration tools
The information system – or more broadly the tools provided to teams – represents another lever for moving up to agility at scale. When you decide to transform your enterprise into a more cross-functional organization and you wish to encourage collaboration among the company’s departments, it is also necessary to opt for the tools promoting multidisciplinary collaboration, the monitoring of projects in real life. On the one hand, changing tools is often a critical decision, hence it needs to be prepared. On the other hand, deciding not to change means failing to successfully implement agility at enterprise scale.
How to lead the agile transformation then?
Step-by-step agile deployment
Our customers’ success stories highlight that agility at scale is all the more smooth and effective when the fundamentals of agility are acquired. Thanks to direct feedback from these field experiences we to scale up agile starting at “Team” level, by implementing methods such as Scrum or DevOps tools, with a limited number of people per team. It will be easier for you to subsequently. move up to higher levels (i.e. “Project Portfolio”, “Enterprise”).
The advice of our experts
To achieve agility at scale: focus on progressive deployment.
Start by analyzing your organization: objectively assess your current functioning, your decision-making processes, your overall strategy, objectives and also interactions among different teams.
Then, imagine where you want your structure and your teams to be. This is going to help you look for new rules, new ways of organization and new strategies based on cooperation, trust and collective intelligence. Actually, these agile principles should be at the heart of your assessments and decision-making because they are key answers to the challenges of innovation and adaptation that your business may be facing.
Use case : the example of the DGA
The IT Management of the French Defense Procurement Agency (Ministry of the Armed Forces, French Government) has launched its agile and digital transformation with Tuleap, by introducing an innovative Digital Workplace. In short, it is a large agile digital transformation project aiming to digitize daily work tools, to modernize project management in a more agile mode and to improve team collaboration.
The hybrid model as a transition towards agility
Obviously, “all agile” functioning is still difficult to implement for some kind of projects, due to several reasons: teams are not ready yet, your customer/business partner is not ready, the project is too long, too complicated, too procedural…
In these cases, there is a solution: the adoption of a hybrid model.
The advice of our experts
With Tuleap, you can choose a hybrid approach where operational teams work in "pure Scrum" with a high-level V-cycle vision.
The transition from V-Cycle to agility is a paradigm shift and mindset that can be upsetting for teams. At the end of the day, agility is the most reassuring approach for successful integration phases, but it’s still necessary to perfectly master its execution… which is something that requires time, mistakes and learning.
SAFe is not always a good solution, is it?
SAFe® is the most popular agile framework and accounts for more than 30% agile transformations at scale. While SAFe is very interesting and useful for large-scale IT projects, it sometimes can be difficult to deploy it to other company units. Actually, most of the time SAFe ends up being adopted by the IT management department and for IT projects only.
But agility at scale isn’t just SAFe! There are other agile at scale methods you can choose from: for instance, Scrum of Scrum or Disciplined Agile Delivery. But watch out for this: by trying to strictly follow a methodology, some organizations forget the essential: each company is unique, and so is its agility.
The advice of our experts
Agility at scale isn’t just SAFe. There are other approaches to scale agile. You should draw inspiration from those methods but then be able to adapt them to your culture and context.
The “Test and Learn” approach
Agility is best built through practice. In fact, the “Test and Learn” approach is proven to be the most effective one for our clients when implementing an agile transformation at scale. Since it represents a continuous improvement process over time, it can be therefore convenient to identify the scope and the way this agile transformation will more easily create a return on investment.
The advice of our experts
An agile transformation is not a sprint but rather a marathon. In a marathon, you don’t see the finish line right away. Being aware of this, avoid getting discouraged.
Starting the agile transformation with specific activities allows to better measure its impact. Then, establishing a continuous improvement loop enables to capitalize on feedback between teams, adjust the deployment strategy and improve the use of tools within cross-functional groups of expertise.
Use case : the exemple of the Grenoble Alpes University (UGA)
The merger of different IT management departments at the University of Grenoble Alpes (UGA) reflected the opportunity for an agile transformation, from values to tools. In just a few months, the UGA has succeeded in changing and developing its own operating methods for its software development projects. Tuleap made it possible to put agile approaches into practice.