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Steps to Agile Transformation

Agile organizations are one of the leading organizations in the information technology industry in recent years due to all the benefits that organizations get by implementing it. Not only the software manufacturing industry, but Agile has also become popular in many other sectors due to the value it provides to those sectors. These industries include banking and finance, construction, architecture, aerospace industry, government projects, and many more. Industries have to stay updated to the present world and deliver as much of the project as any other company would. Agile helps these organizations to deliver products on time and create unique and new products that are currently required in the industry. Agile Methodology has many frameworks that would suit the need of the company and help them produce values that are expected from them. 

The evolution of Agile has made many organizations realize that to succeed in the information technology industry and also in other industries, companies have to implement Agile, follow the Agile mindset, and go through all the steps to transform their company into an Agile organization. The process of transformation depends on various factors that are pre-existing in the company such as the mindset of the employees, the resources required for the company to transform into Agile, and the willingness of all the members of the organization to adapt to a new environment. There are many more factors that may be encountered when a company wants to adopt an Agile Methodology. In this article, we discuss the steps for Agile transformation in detail and understand the process of the transformation.

What is an Agile Transformation?

An Agile transformation project is a process where a company using previous methodologies implements Agile in its organization and functions according to the Agile values and principles. It should be considered just like other projects that introduce change to the organization. The outcome of an Agile transformation is a change in beliefs, behaviors, and culture of the organization. In simpler terms, Agile transformation is all about the formation of teams, building Product Backlogs, and producing valuable increments regularly by working and testing the software. When looked at an overview, Agile Methodology is all about creating a network of loosely coupled teams, managing trade-offs, and coordinating dependencies, and shifting the products to the market faster. Agile primarily focuses on continuous integration, and continuous delivery, and removing the things that come in the way of establishing things. 

Agile Transformation Strategy

As the concept of transformation of Agile is clear, lets us discuss more the strategy of an Agile transformation. The first step to consider while formulating the Agile transformation strategy is to note down where the organization is today and where it would need to go in the future. While answering these questions, two domains have to be considered. They are:

  • The first question is about considering the value of the company in terms of planning by asking how much does the predictable delivery value and how much are willing to accept change in the organization. There’s usually a trade-off between both of them even though most of the companies want both of these. But the company has to understand that there should be a balance for both of these because if the predictability of the company increases, there would be fewer chances for change, and if they design the company for more adaptability they would be less predictable.
  • The second question is about considering the customer’s value from the perspective of planning. Is the company trying to consider to figure out what the customer wants, or just concerned about meeting the commitments? 

Answering these questions would give a foundation for the companies to plan the Agile transformation roadmap and help them move forward in the implementation of Agile. After making a firm decision and considering all the pros and cons of implementing Agile, the company decides to implement the Agile transformation which follows many steps. 

Steps for Agile Transformation

The right way to plan an Agile Transformation is to understand that the business values are delivered at regular increments in the transformation. The ultimate goal is to implement the work system and establish the way Agile works. The company should prepare the transformation by taking on regular product releases instead of taking complex and larger products. They should start an incremental delivery for the regular releases such that the work on the transformation can be managed. Each Agile transformation is different and depends on the organization and also is monitored by various factors. However, the following steps are the common ones that every organization goes through.

Step 1: Creating a Leadership Coalition

Making sure that every member of the organization is on board with the idea of transformation is one of the first steps in the Agile transformation. Every part of the business would require support from the top and only powering the teams would not be enough. To create the Agile transformation, the leads such as the Agile coach should make sure that they are prepared for the transformation. If the employees cannot understand the process of Agile and think that it is beyond them to create a change, the transformation may not work. Hence, Agile coaches and other members should make sure that the environment where Agile is going to be implemented is ready and everyone is on board for the transformation and would contribute significantly to bring about the change. Hence, by creating leadership among the members, the company can be prepared for all the changes that it is about to face.

Step 2: An End State Vision Definition

Before starting the transformation, the company has to have an idea about where they are going concerning the growth of the company. The company needs to have a vision that it plans to accomplish which would include various tasks such as planning a working hypothesis for the structure, metrics, and governance. These tasks do not have to be planned with elaboration as they will be understood in detail throughout the transformation. The company also has to know about the type of teams that they want to form and how they expect them to work. 

Step 3: Creating an Agile transformation roadmap

An Agile roadmap could be thought of as a plan for the company to decide how they want to go about the process of various product development using Agile. This includes the questions about which team, group, or capability would go first, second, or third in the Agile transformation. The company has to have a clear idea about what they should expect from the Agile transformation, how long would it take, and also the benefits that they could expect from the investment. The groups that transform together are known as expeditions, and the intermediate outcomes that those groups achieve are called basecamps.

Step 4: A Rolling 90-day plan should be maintained

The team responsible for the transformation has to meet to plan and assess the progress of Agile transformation and adjust the necessary. The goal for the team is to have a rolling 90-day plan with a fairly specific view of the changes that are going to take place. The 90-day plan should be similar to the Product Increment or an Agile release plan. This plan would include all the details that would describe the things that the organization would go through in the next 90-day period. Hence, this step is just the start of the implementation and instructs that the transformation should be slow. Having a 90-day plan would give the transformation team a clear view of the changes that they would expect. 

Step 5: 30-day checkpoints should be conducted

The progress of the work for the transformation should be checked at a period of 30 days similar to that of a Sprint cycle. By assessing the progress, the team can review it, have a retrospect about it, and adjust the changes such that the efficiency of the transformation is enhanced. As mentioned earlier, the Agile transformation could be treated as any other Product Increment that the organization has to deliver. 

Step 6: Learning and Adapting Changes

After assessing the progress of transformation, the end-state vision should also be assessed. This gives the Agile transformation team an idea about how their understanding has evolved during the process. They would have to learn from the retrospect and adapt the adjustments to make the transformation more effective. Hence, adapting and learning is an important step during the Agile transformation process.

Step 7: Connection of activities to the outcomes

The entire reason for a company to undergo an Agile transformation is to produce better business outcomes. The activities such as creating hypotheses, conducting experiments, and demonstrating outcomes have to justify the investments of the company. Most of the activities could not be known in advance, however, the goal is to get better at sequencing the outcomes that have to be completed and also ensure that the activities are finished so that the desired business outcomes are achieved. 

Step 8: Connection of Outcomes to the business objectives

To understand whether the transformation is working, the improvements of the systems should be tangible to the benefits of the business. The transformation has to show the progress against the business metric baseline to executives. This means that the outcomes of the Agile transformation should be seen in terms of the business benefits and the dollar invested should be measurable in the outcomes seen. 

Step 9: The Communication Management

Managing transparent communication is one of the chief steps that determine the success of Agile transformation. Regular communication about the progress and impediments would produce a sense of encouragement and excitement among the employees. The town halls, signage, executive roundtables, and various other information radiators. 

Step 10: Creating safety for everyone involved

The transformation of the organization is a new experience for everyone. Hence, it is very important to create a safe environment for everyone and make everyone see what is in it for them. Creating clarity, accountability, and measurable progress for everyone would create a sense of positivity in the organization. 

Agile Transformation Roadmap

An Agile transformation roadmap is a plan that helps the transformation team to communicate the vision, and steps that the organization desires to take towards their Agile transformation. It is not the same as the Agile transformation project plan which is more detailed. However, the project plan includes a roadmap to lead the direction for the plan. A company needs an Agile transformation roadmap as it helps significantly with the process of Agile implementation. As a company decides to bring about new changes, people naturally resist change which leads to the failure of Agile transformation. The resistance may be mistaken for the lack of direction in the members of the organization. Hence, an Agile transformation roadmap would help the company to minimize the resistance and serve as a framework when scaling transformation is needed.

Any goal should have clarity whether it is at the level of the organization or the level of the team. The members should have a clear idea about why the goal is created or chosen, and what are the steps that have to be taken to complete the goal. An Agile transformation roadmap would create a clear idea about what are the expectations of how the organization would evolve. Also, would tell the members about how a culture of self-organization and collaboration will be implemented. 

Hence, a roadmap has quick enough information such that people can communicate easily as compared to the detailed project plan which would take more time to be explained.

Conclusion

Agile Transformations are frequent in today’s industries as companies have understood the importance of following Agile Methodology and know about all the benefits that it will offer. Agile coaches or champions are often people who should initiate an Agile transformation and Agile adoptions. Companies have evolved and are always ready to compete with the latest software methodologies in the market. Implementing Agile would make the organization ready for all the competition and help them survive in the market. Also, the new frameworks that are introduced in Agile would help companies create the best products and add value to the business. Also, Agile implementation would involve the customers and users and their feedback which would help the teams create the best products and ultimately help in increasing the revenue of the company. 

References

https://www.castsoftware.com/research-labs/agile-transformation-roadmap
https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2018/11/04/the-twelve-stages-of-the-agile-transformation-journey/?sh=7f2bdc0c3dd4
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