The three myths about agile practices worth debunking

If you think agile practices are just for software developers, you’re missing out on the benefits agile can bring for your entire organization.

“High performing, cross-functional teams have been shown to have incredible increases in productivity, faster time to market and greatly improved quality across the organization,” said Jim Love, CIO of ITWC and host of the recent webinar, Agile – Not Just for Software Developers.

Sponsored by CA Technologies, the session reviewed how a leading payment processing company transformed its business using agile principles.

Agile transformation is the same as agile adoption

A common misconception is that agile will yield results when you adopt it for specific projects, according to Skip Angel, chief path finder, services practice development team with CA Technologies. “What I’ve discovered is that transformation is an organizational change and a change in mindset, not just putting some processes in place,” said Angel.

Angel pointed out that many companies are not fully embracing agile throughout the organization, with 45 per cent taking a blended approach. The company in the case study initially tried it only from an IT perspective and failed.

“This is the age of the application economy and the traditional way of doing things is not enough,” said Angel. “In order to win, you need to be a disrupter.” Angel pointed to companies like Uber and AirBnb, which used technology to fundamentally change their industries.

Angel presented some compelling statistics to prove the point. Digital disrupters are 2.5 times more likely to have agile practices in place. These disrupters experienced twice the revenue growth and 2.5 times the profitability of others. As well, 1.5 times more of their revenue came from new streams of business.

Transformation is unique in every organization

“People say they’re different, but companies tend to list the same problems,” said Angel, “There’s a pattern”.

Companies are often worried that it takes too long to get products to market, and that they are trying to do too many things at once.

An agile transformation journey starts with “lean thinking,” said Angel. The goal is to streamline the process from “concept to cash” to improve the customer experience.  “Agile is about being able to satisfy the customer early and often,” he said.

The first step is to identify the business outcomes needed from agility.  Then, a company has to pull together its business side, the IT group, and operations. The company in the case study took a coordinated approach with its rollout strategy, said Angel. “The key thing is that the teams are all connected and roll up to bigger initiatives,” he added.

The transformation is complete once agile practices are in place

Wrong. This is an ongoing journey of continuous improvement, said Angel. The case study company set up an Agile Centre of Excellence to orchestrate the ongoing program.

Another key element is to measure success. Metrics are important to ensure that the company is building the right thing at the right time, doing it fast and in a sustainable way, and with consistently high quality. “It was really fantastic once we measured and started seeing that customers and employees were happier,” said Angel. Employees were finally able to see how their work was making a difference in the bigger picture, he added.

“Imagine a day when we have a company that is all in sync. It’s going to be amazing what they can accomplish,“ said Angel. “The future lies in using the agile principles as a company. We will hear more success stories as we start to push the boundaries of agile.”






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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker has over 20 years of experience in IT-related fields in the public and private sectors, as a lawyer and strategic advisor. She is a former broadcast journalist, currently working as a consultant, freelance writer and editor.

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