Agile Work Management is a proven method encompassing a series of tools, processes and techniques to manage prioritization, delivery and value realization in areas with high levels of complexity and change. It is part of a Digital Product Execution Ready triad that also includes DevOps and Cloud.
Done right, Agile excludes dogmatic, big-bang implementations and supports incremental MVP deployments and rapid iteration. Agile is about discipline and consistency at scale to achieve transparency and velocity.
There are tools in place to support on-demand transparency, collaboration and onboarding/continuous learning systems to ensure new staff and old skills are refreshed.
100 - 80 PTS
You have cross-functionally aligned Agile teams and work management processes driven by outcomes and customer or business impact. Your Agile transition did not take an all-or-nothing approach across IT but focused on products where iteration and rapid response to feedback drives revenue or profit. The result is some critical mass of high-performing, small teams, each with a clear mission that they can deliver end to end. Trust and two-way transparency exist between business and IT at all levels. The business supports product owners as the proxy voice for their customers and strategic priorities.
Digital Execution Ready
100 - 80 PTS
You create Agile teams for highly variable and/or complex work, but existing decisions or traditional project-based annual funding cycles stand in the way of incubating and iterating. Agile teams may be aligned to projects rather than products, and it may be difficult for teams to build an effective working rhythm. Product vision, roadmap and user journeys are available but may not be broadly understood by delivery teams. Therefore, delivery teams cannot make the transition from milestone management to value/impact-driven development. The business may not see an optimal value-to-investment ratio. These gaps are viewed as startup issues rather than fatal flaws. IT and business leaders have an aligned focus or use tools like the Digital Ready Workbook to refine investments required to accelerate Agility.
Digital in Process
Your IT organization either sees Agile as a bottom-up/team-level tactic or an all-or-nothing approach. Bottom-up direction allowed each team to determine scrum team size, Agile artifacts/tools and/or sprint durations. On the opposite side of the spectrum, heavy focus on process — aka Agile artifacts and practices — obliterated understanding of outcomes or impact. The result is the business sees IT’s Agile transition as driving more chaos and less effective execution. Delivery teams are seen as order-takers rather than partners in product development decision-making, much less technology product strategy.
Questions & Answers
The question-and-answer section outlines why the questions are important, how they are weighted, and what best practice looks like.
How is Agile transformation measured?
Why we ask this:
Organizations often implement Agile as another management flavor or overlay on top of existing work management processes. Digitally capable organizations use Agile as a tool to enable better alignment, transparency and iteration based on business and customer needs rather than as an end goal.
How we weighed this question:
The success and relevance of Agile transformation are based on how it delivers business outcomes, not how dogmatically the methodology is applied.
What best looks like:
IT and business are aligned on how to use Agile work management to support target revenue or profit outcomes. They use retrospectives or other mechanisms to adjust and iterate Agile disciplines. Agile is viewed as a continuous improvement engine. Adoption is evaluated based on the impact on customer experience, top-line growth, product delivery velocity, quality and overall business/engineering engagement, satisfaction and ownership.
If you are not getting results from Agile, whiteboard with the CIO organization on how to reframe metrics and targets for business impact over process/methodology attainment.
Focus enablement and investment on a short list of products where iterative development matters. Using a start small, then scale approach, it may be necessary to separate out teams so that you can build the right roles, drive the right discipline and practices, and demonstrate delivery effectiveness.
For more detail, check out BreakFree’s point of view on Agile Work Management and Cross-functional teams.