Agile Project Delivery  – sprint, sprint, sprint

Created over 17 years ago, Agile is a software development method for completing business tasks more efficiently.

By Marty Johnson , Associate, 7 Mile Advisors May 30, 2018

Agile Project Delivery has been a method for completing business tasks, utilizing collaboration and cross-functional teams, used in software development since 2001. When properly used, it allows for companies to make quick moves, in an ever-changing atmosphere, to keep clients and customers happy. However, this is not a breakthrough or new idea in the project management world. What is new, and taking shape, is how efficiently and effectively Agile is being utilized, and what steps companies are taking to maximize the benefits.

Agile was originally created in early 2001, by 17 gentlemen who wanted to find an alternative to the documentation-driven, seemingly inefficient software development process. By the end of the two-day trip, Agile was formed with the idea that to “succeed in the new economy, to move aggressively into the era of e-business, e-commerce, and the web, companies have to rid themselves of their Dilbert manifestations of make-work and arcane policies”[1]. What, at the time, seemed like a very forward statement still is accurate today. Barriers to entry are lower, customer expectations are higher and the demand to meet these expectations has never been such a tall order (given the speed and quality expectations). Agile, in its most basic form, is taking a much larger task and breaking it down into bite-size goals. Short goals or iterations (sprints) allow for continual monitoring of the team toward long-term goals, as well as the opportunity to shift gears or directions, as customer expectations change or the business environment warrants. In efficiently utilizing this approach, companies can achieve better results, in regards to both customer experience and finances.

Experts note that when used properly, Agile provides value in various ways. CIO Magazine states, “As competition is continually increasing and time to market is also shrinking, agile offers numerous benefits and limited drawbacks”[2]. Capgemini, in their article titled “Agile means profitable,” writes, “Agile’s take-it-one-step-at-a-time approach is actually ideal for boosting revenues since not all parts of a business have an equal impact on revenues”[3]. So, the logical follow-up question is, if Agile is as easy as breaking down the process into sprints and as advantageous as the above-mentioned comments with limited drawbacks, why aren’t all businesses utilizing the Agile methodology, and for the ones that are, why aren’t they all using it effectively?

Common hurdles that businesses face include the following:

  1. How do companies get their employees excited and participating in Agile? Employees may not see the immediate benefit in altering the way that they do things. Furthermore, the pain of having to change their routines also disincentivizes the idea of Agile.
  2. Agile sometimes requires role and structural changes within the organization. Changes such as these could cause headaches, as well as agitate employees up the ranks. Also, if some members of the team are either new to the process or the company itself, the employee may not function as well under the pressure.
  3. Depending on the industry, companies rely on partners outside of the organization, such as lawyers, infrastructure, brand agencies. Having to wait on outside partners could slow the process and throw numerous wrenches in the plan.

The hurdles above are not specific to an industry or company. If a corporation can fight through these, they are more likely to have more success potentially leading to better financial results. One way to ensure positive outcomes is to partner with an outside team that not only helps with the implementation of Agile methodologies, but is a partner from start to end. All parts of the process are crucial, and at any point in the process, Agile could break down if not properly implemented and managed. Beginning with getting the software and infrastructure ready, as well as the employees that will be involved, then to implementing the Agile process, and finally ending with constant monitoring to ensure smooth sailing going forward. As Accenture notes, “Many firms have invested in building up an agile team and Scrum capabilities but have failed to fundamentally transform front-to-back delivery capabilities across their entire business and IT environments”[4]. Companies will be looking more closely at both Agile and outside teams that they can bring in to help institute the Agile Methodologies effectively.

In their annual study, VersionOne found respondents that have been using Agile for 1–2, 3–5, and 5+ years have all increased year over year[5]. This shows an overall trend that Agile adopters are satisfied with the methodology and kept the process to achieve various business goals. Ultimately, this trend shows that there could be an increase in first-time Agile adopters, and thus a larger need for outside partners that can help implement the idea, all the way through monitoring the process on the back end. Right now, it is an exciting time for both companies implementing Agile, as well as for implementation support teams.

Marty Johnson  is an associate at 7 Mile Advisors. This article originally appeared on 7 Mile Advisors’ blog. 7 Mile Advisors is a CFE Media content partner.


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