Juhana Huotarinen is a lead consultant of software development at Gofore. Juhana’s background is in software engineering and lately, he has taken part in some of the biggest digitalisation endeavours in Finland. His blogs focus on current topics, involving agile transformation, software megatrends, and work culture. Juhana follows the ‘every business is a software business’ motto.
My previous blog post focussed on the first steps of the agile transformation process. It identified that the three first steps are defining the current situation, choosing the right framework and educating the important people. This blog post explains how to ensure that the agile transformation process will cross the finish line.
4. Create an Implementation Team
To make permanent changes to the organisation, the agile transformation process must be put into action. Individual change agents are a good start, but they need a surrounding structure. The ‘team’ is the basic unit of agile transformation.
A powerful method is to create an implementation team whose target is to put the first agile transformation changes into effect. The implementation team works in an agile mode and its backlog contains items such as ‘facilitate a workshop about retrospective techniques`, ‘create an agenda to the first UX-guild meeting’, and ‘select a tool for the backlog’.
The team members are typically change agents and agile coaches. A future product owner can practise the product owner’s role within the team. The implementation team is also an example to the rest of the organisation, so it’s advisable to follow Agile and Lean principles by the book.
5. Focus on Low-Hanging Fruits
Agile transformation, even in the best circumstances, may take months to years to be completed. Lengthy projects have always the ‘project fatigue’ risk, where the organisation starts to lose focus concerning the reason why the particular project exists. Concentrating on targets which are easily achievable give a positive vibe to the whole organisation.
Some of the administrative and organisational changes are quick to be implemented and are visible to many. New structures, teams, roles, schedules, tools, and ceremonies are just a few examples. These changes have also a significant impact on the organisation’s culture over time.
The Implementation team`s job is to put changes into action. At the same time, the team encourages the rest of the organisation to take responsibility. When the transformation process is progressing, the implementation team divide and the team members join new teams. This way, knowledge is shared.
6. Build the Engine
“Is Agile dirty? Only when it’s being done right” once said the agile-guru Jim Coplien. When administrative and organisational problems are solved, it’s time to dig into the dirtier details of agile transformation. The final goal is to create a continuous delivery approach where releases are calculated in minutes or hours; the collaboration with customers is on a daily basis; and the organisational structure is full of autonomous cross-skilled teams that manage the whole cycle from requirements to customer feedbacks.
The demands to the organisation are high both culturally and technically if the continuous delivery approach is used. In sophisticated organisations, development teams with the support of a DevOps community will take the responsibility. The easier solution is to create a dedicated system team, whose main objective is to design and implement the method.
The organisation must have skilled developers who can master technical aspects of the approach. It’s crucial that quality standards are superior, because every part of the software development is depended on continuous delivery. Continuous delivery is typically based on containers, automated build pipelines, and cloud computing platforms.
To Infinity and Beyond
According to the ‘Leading the transformation’, how teams come together to deliver value is the primary result and how individual teams work is a secondary effect. The local optimum offers quick results, but the longer-term victory lies requires co-operation of the whole organisation.
Agile transformation is a costly and time-consuming process and there are not many shortcuts available. However, it teaches organisations a new habit where constant change is the new normal.
Leading the Transformation: Applying Agile and DevOps Principles at Scale by Gary Gruver