As technology businesses increasingly transition to cloud-based platforms and make the journey to become a SaaS provider, many of these businesses are making the shift toward agile delivery. As many who have walked down this path would know, this can be a challenging transition to successfully navigate that requires organisational time and commitment. Many of us at Potentia have been part of this journey and have identified our key lessons learned in achieving a successful outcome.
1. Customer at the centre
The underlying premise of agile delivery is customer centricity with increasingly frequent iterations to deliver on evolving needs. The challenge is that as you get into delivery, it is easy to revert back to our established behaviours that come from traditional software delivery models that focus on target milestones against requirements. The result can be a reluctance to build and form an MVP that is released to customers early and hence, waiting for the perceived moment of product perfection.
The first lesson to becoming more agile is to fight the urge to hold back and bring forward the customer feedback cycle as part of your organisations journey. One of the key benefits of this approach is that you will have the benefit of customer feedback on a regular basis to inform your prioritisation choices and ensure that you are delighting customers over time.
2. This is a cultural change not a process change
When you embark on an agile transformation, it can feel like a change in the product development process. The reality is that the transition to agile ways of working is a cultural transformation. When this change is made successfully, cross-disciplinary teams will come together to collectively solve problems for the customer.
This does not always feel natural for teams who have historically worked in silos, think hierarchical and may have a limited understanding of the skills and benefits of other disciplines. Hence, it is important to be thoughtful about the cultural journey that you are embarking on and to be clear about what success looks like at each stage.
3. Collaboration is key
Collaboration is the area that time again requires focus in any agile delivery. Whilst there are a series of rituals that one can follow, if they are not backed with meaningful collaboration then it is frankly just another meeting.
When people come together for the first time as part of a multi-disciplinary team of designers, engineers, and commercial team members to solve a customer problem, this creates a very different working dynamic from what we are accustomed and can feel uncomfortable for those that have not worked in this manner before.
Often the difference between success and failure is curiosity and empathy for what the other contributors are bringing to the table and a collective commitment to proactively solving problems.
4. Everyone owns continuous improvement
When you work in an agile environment, a shared sense of ownership for improvement is critical. The purpose of retrospectives is to acknowledge what is working well and to identify how we can all help improve our ways of working. There is no point standing around brainstorming ideas for improvements if everyone believes that it is someone else’s problem. One approach is to finish each retro with an individual commitment as to what each person will do to make one thing better.
5. Data is your friend
Irrespective of which tools you are using, it is highly likely you will have access to some great data driven insights on your team. Data can help you gain insights into your agile rhythm and opportunities for improvement. This is a great way to monitor your team’s progress and set realistic goals for each stage of your agile journey.
In summary, each organisation will adapt their agile delivery over time to align with a combination of customer needs and their own culture. Whilst that journey may seem challenging at times, it is possible to navigate the change with a combination of thoughtful planning, a collaborative culture and ongoing tracking and monitoring.
For more thoughts on this topic, check out some of the resources below: