Definitive Guide to Building Agile Transformation Roadmap

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Agile is steadily spreading its ideology through business and industries, going beyond IT and software development companies. And it’s something to be expected, as who wouldn't want to reap the benefits of a project management approach that drives immediate results, putting the focus on delivering value and client satisfaction? It keeps the business profitable and the client happy - a win-win situation for all parties concerned. Therefore, more and more companies build an Agile transformation roadmap and set out on their journey to transcend to a new way of working.

What is Agile transformation 

Some companies start out as Agile. For some, it takes a journey to come to the point where they can truly be an Agile company. Agile transformation journey takes a traditional company through a series of steps to adopt new Agile ways of working, which sometimes implies as much as changing the mindset by which the company exists, putting Agile values and principles at its core. 

Where there's a journey, there's a road to be taken. 

An Agile transformation roadmap may help a traditional company set out on its way to adopting the Agile principles. A roadmap is not entirely a plan, but it lays out the milestones to head toward and roadblocks to try to avoid. Tailored to the specific needs of any given company, a transformation roadmap defines Agile steps to give the company an idea of how to approach its transformation. If done right, it helps align the teams involved and smoothly roll out the Agile transformation plan. 

Reasons to adopt Agile in an organization

A company should consider introducing some Agile steps in optimizing its work if it: 

  • can’t keep up with customer demands and industry trends 
  • doesn’t have an effective method of implementing customer feedback 
  • product delivery or service takes too long 

However, as good as it may sound, change in the ways the company is working may disrupt the usual workflows and be a cause for concern. It is especially the case for large enterprises which consist of dozens of departments and have thousands of people whose livelihood depends on the profitability and competitive advantage of the company.  

Some companies may want to try out Agile by first introducing it on a smaller scale: on a department, team, or individual level. If proven successful, this may expand to the entire company. The further Agile transition depends on how efficiently it’s implemented and operating in pockets. 

Agile transformation should be done meticulously and through meticulous assessment and analysis. Upon examination, an Agile consultant may advise which course to take in the company’s Agile transformation. As an example of this, when Symphony Solutions Lean Agile Center of Excellence (LACE) office accommodated Casumo introducing the Agile approach on all levels of the company, they took the already existing Scrum basics course and adjusted it to the specific company needs. As the case study suggests, the company had a series of practical training courses carried out for teams, product management and leadership. This ensured a deeper approach and a more wholesome and all-encompassing transformation journey. 

To stay on top of the competition, a company needs to continuously learn and improve, adapt to change, and keep a steady focus on the goal, which should always be client satisfaction. This flexibility to change and adaptability stands at the core of the Agile approach. 

Agile transformation real benefits in practice

The Agile approach is quickly extending to companies and industries beyond IT with SAFe being a popular methodology to apply for scaling business. The business benefits of embracing the Agile mindset are unprecedented as it shows to directly impact how companies grow in business value, increase customer satisfaction and subsequently drive profits. In the next few years, Agile approach implemented on an enterprise level is expected to grow to 32%, as noted in KPMG Global Agile Survey 2019. 

Companies stated that they pursue the transition to Agile approach to benefit from: 

  • Faster delivery speeds 
  • Flexibility to customer needs 
  • Improving customer satisfaction 
  • Breaking down silos
    Scrum and Kanban methodologies usage in organisation

A cultural shift is recognized as the main challenging factor in an Agile transformation by over 59% of those surveyed. However, taking into account that most of the respondents (81%) only started their Agile journey within the last three years, the tendency may be expected to improve over time. Noteworthy is that among these respondents an overarching majority plan to implement Agile on enterprise level in the foreseeable future.
Agile transformation timeline - Comapnies survey

Overall, it’s a generally well received and desirable approach that companies strive to adopt. It’s safe to say that the majority recognizes the benefits that are brought about by the introduction of the Agile approach, so it’s here to stay in the long run. 

10 Steps to building an Agile transformation roadmap

The complete transformation journey may take a lot more than ten steps, but you need to start somewhere. Here are some essential tips to get you set up and running. 

  • Do an assessment 

Analyzing where the company stands in terms of structure, workflows, performance, etc., helps determine the starting point in the transformation process and come up with an Agile transformation strategy. 

  • Adjust your mindset 

For an established company, it may be hard to jump right into the new way of running things. Taking upon an Agile mindset may help make the transition smoother. 

  • Address employees’ apprehensions 

Before you can even start implementing the roadmap, Agile concepts and principles need to be well-received and accepted by the people who will be doing all the work. That’s why it is important to address any concerns and questions coming from employees. This comes hand in hand with adopting an Agile mindset – Agile can only work on company level if every person involved understands the principles and is guided by Agile values. 

  • Invest in coaching 

If you want to engage all company levels in the Agile transformation, it makes sense to invest in expert coaching. An Agile coach can be of much help, starting from introducing each team to the basics of Agile and Scrum, to setting up the processes, to assisting in Agile activities up until the team is self-sufficient and capable of taking up more initiative and responsibility for the successful completion of the project. Moreover, investing in Agile coaching helps you save expenses in the long run. For example, having timely applied Agile coaching allowed Ladbrokes Coral to reduce time to market by 32 days and have efficient, cost-effective delivery. 

  • Narrow down your vision 

A distinctive characteristic of Agile thinking is being able to set your eyes on a concrete goal of completing the task and delivering usable results to the client. This means that having one task with dependencies brought to completion is oftentimes more important than focusing on multiple of your personal tasks. So, the question is not “How do I finish my tasks?” but “How do we finish and deliver this task to the client?” 

  • Seek competent guidance 

Efficient leadership and guidance are important for the successful implementation of the Agile approach. The leadership needs to have a clear vision, define where the company is heading in the transformation journey. Likewise, competent guidance from an Agile coach is what can boost the company in the initial steps of its transformation and see to it that the team is well-equipped, aligned, and able to further operate independently. 

  • Empower team self-governance 

Having teams reach self-sufficiency is one of the goals of Agile coaching. The Agile mindset promotes democratic decision-making and effective self-management. 

  • Continuous communication 

This should be achieved within the team, for distributed teams, and with the customer. As the Agile approach means high responsiveness to change, flexibility to customer feedback and fast delivery, effective communication is a way to achieve this. Daily stand-ups, retrospective meetings, sprint demos, online PI planning for distributed teams: all these are Agile events that contribute to effective communication in Agile teams. 

  • Change management strategy 

An Agile management differs from that in a traditional company, in a way that a greater role is given to self-organization, accountability and responsibility of each member of an Agile team. 

  • Accountability and remediation 

There should be clear metrics to measure progress and analyze the efficiency of the implemented changes. Each team member should take on a proactive role in self-organization and increasing value-added to the common goal. 

Roadblocks and pitfalls to avoid on your journey to Business Agility 

Any change rarely comes easy, so it’s important to be aware of difficulties that the team may face in the process. Generally, all that may get in the way of a company’s transformation journey, comes down to a few main roadblocks: 

  • Culture. A set of values and principles build up the core of the Agile approach. The transformation is a lot about embracing the specific mindset, way of thinking in different categories. So, problems may arise if the company has a strong culture that opposes the very principles of the Agile approach. 
  • Lack of alignment. Teamwork and accountability play a big role in adopting the Agile approach. The more teams are involved, the more dependencies, the more important it is to have good alignment within the team and across teams. 
  • Unclear vision. To get to your goal, you have to set your eyes on it and know how to get it. Clearly defined goals and a transformation roadmap may help in this regard. 
  • Availability of tools. Lack of proper tools may hinder the teams from successfully completing tasks, efficiently communicate, track progress. An Agile coach may introduce the teams to the right tools and train you how to make good use of them. 
  • Scaling beyond team level. Whenever there’s a need to scale up, difficulties are expected. SAFe is a framework that helps bring alignment across organization and guides the company in scaling Agile practices. 

These and other difficulties, however, are possible to overcome as long as the team has good guidance and is set to succeed. With the prevalence of the Agile approach and its future prospects, there is no reason for resistance in the company’s transformation. At the end of the day, everyone who want to stay relevant on the market, will have to learn to adapt and embrace the new world. 

To conclude 

With Agile, everything needs to be better and faster. The sooner the clients get to see and make use of what they’re paying for, the better. The Agile approach empowers the contractor to deliver tangible results to the client in mere weeks, creating minimum viable products sometimes as soon as two weeks into development. The company that has successfully completed its Agile transformation, bears a great competitive advantage in the rapidly changing and highly demanding market. With optimized processes and maximized efficiency, the journey from an idea to an actual product now takes weeks, instead of months or years. Just about any company can achieve such astounding results by resorting to Agile transformation servicesthat encompass all the phases of the transitionleading a company through assessment, to training and implementation, certification, up until the point when the teams become self-sufficient. 

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