It started as a software development methodology particularly aimed at creating small, responsive, and competent teams that can execute the development procedure in incremental iterative cycles rather than taking the traditional unidirectional approach. But today Agile as a concept is used by virtually all industries- from finances and healthcare to retail and education, everyone has found its application on different verticals of their business operations.
For a quick roundup, the widely accepted benefits of adopting Agile include:
- Accelerated product delivery
- Higher flexibility to evolving needs
- Better productivity and quality
- Reduced risks and costs
With so much to offer, agility must be booming. Right? Well, it’s complicated.
The current state of agility:
Despite such hype and fanfare, agility in some ways remains elusive for many organizations. The graph below clearly indicates that 82% of them are yet to achieve agile maturity. But at the same time, given that 97% of them are either considering or are already invested in agility at some level means that it is not apprehensions about the methodology itself but the related challenges that are holding these organizations back.
What’s the problem?
As mentioned at the beginning, agile was meant for small teams but given the immense benefits it offers, it has found its way to enterprise environments as well. And that is exactly the problem- the challenge to scale.
So how do you scale agility?
There are two levels of solution-
- The generic architecture and procedures;
- Specific tools and operations.
On generic front, you need to first shape your organization and business operations so that agility can easily ripple through. From hiring dedicated agile coaches and trainers to maintaining consistency in the pursuit, every action plays its part and you must do it right. The picture below drives the point home:
Okay, now that you have a clear roadmap for transitioning to agility, the implementation too needs to be equally swift. And that is where the second level of solution comes into play- tools. While there are many agility frameworks available in the market- each with their distinctive features, two of them are widely accepted to be the best- SAFe and Scrum. Pick any one you like and you probably won’t be disappointed. We will be exploring SAFe here.
SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)
It is a highly structured and prescriptive framework that helps enterprises implement their agile strategies at all levels. To put it simply, it works on the organizational level instead of team levels, thus making it the perfect tool to fuse together the agility of enterprise mobile app development, enterprise system thinking, and lean development and deployment principles.
It recognizes 3+1 levels- the team, the program, the portfolio levels and the optional value stream level- all of which are deeply integrated and supplemented by the vast array of advanced features and alignment tools it offers. In crude terms,
- It works as a bridge between team-level development and broader business strategy
- It provides potential shippable increments to help plan the overall release cycles.
- It offers real-time data to help managers make more informed decisions on their feet.
There is hardly any global enterprise today that hasn’t embraced agility at one level or another. And when we talk about transition, all of them will put forward the same experience- while they did face many technical and structural challenges; behavioral challenges were the toughest to overcome. That point being, while there are many tools and strategies available to mitigate the challenges posed by legacy systems and knowledge gaps, they can only be of help after you address any resistance to change in your organization.