Agile: The Organizational Challenge

Customer demand on application developers has never been stronger.

Customer demand on application developers has never been stronger. People expect new features more quickly, capabilities that better align to their needs, and fast, flexible responses to changing market trends. This has led to the explosive growth in iterative/agile development in the forms of Scrum, Kanban, XP, and even ‘Lean Development,’ which better enables teams to iteratively respond to the market and give customers the applications they expect.

But these new development approaches bring their own unique challenges and costs–which some people may not be prepared to pay. While you may be more responsive to customer needs, associated organizational penalties are often overlooked and end up costing a company more than they bargain for.

“We did an agile initiative and it was a nightmare. I had no visibility, I had no influence and yet it cost me a million dollars and ate up 6 months of my resources.”

-Technology Company CTO

Inadequate visibility/prioritization for executives, inability to capitalize their agile development, a lack of holistic resource management, and a disconnected development process affects organizations at the highest levels.

“Moving to an agile development process has not come without a cost. We were only able to capitalize about 7% of our development costs, this quarter (vs. the industry average of 25%) because we have disparate and inconsistent technology that doesn’t match our traditional project work. This was a line item mentioned by the CFO on our earnings call…it is that big of a deal.”

-Sr. Director of IT, Healthcare Software Company

As teams have grown beyond the “sticky-note wall room” into distributed teams, they have traditionally taken a “developer-centric” approach to agile project management, leveraging defect-trackers, testing tools and other solutions to manage daily updates and stand-ups. But while this has automated the needs of the team, it hasn’t solved the needs of executives and priorities.

 

A New Approach – Win/Win for Executives and Developers

By pushing agile visibility “above the line,” organizations can change the paradigm and acceptance of agile development, enabling executives and agile teams to work together without doing duplicate and replicated work, yet maintain the speed and flexibility of agile lifecycle management.

While the focus on executive visibility and prioritization is increasingly important, it can’t minimize the inherent benefits to developers. Integrated toolsets are essential across the entire software development value chain, enabling collaboration and reporting facilities previously impossible in heterogeneous environments.

Agile is here to stay – and its benefits can best be realized only with a comprehensive approach to planning, investments, prioritization and software development. Whether you are looking at adopting Agile for new software development projects or broader business transformation initiatives, having the transparency to drive incremental improvements will be key to maintaining ongoing management support and adoption in your organization.

Written by

Alyson Poston

Alyson Poston is a senior advisor of solution strategy at CA Technologies. As part of…

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