Scaled Agile: 3 Ways to Keep it Going

So you’ve gotten rolling with Agile methodology at your company, eh? You tore down common Agile misconceptions after reading the first blog in this series and then you learned the keys to Agile success in the second blog. Assuming your first initiative went well, you now want to scale your processes.

Hold up – Scaling Agile is a challenge!

Expanding Agile to other areas of your business requires you to look long and hard at your current implementation to determine its feasability for future engagements. Evaluate how things have unfolded in your first Agile project. Have any new concerns cropped up? Are you creating technical debt beyond what’s comfortable for your team and stakeholders? Objectively, is everything just right?

If you and your executive teams, stakeholders, and users are committed to scaling Agile across your business, here are three strategies to keep at the forefront as you grow:

1. Address New Concerns

How are your managers, auditors, and PMO handling the move to Agile development? Are they happy? Did they get access to the tools they need to remain positive about the process change?

Communication can’t be overemphasized. Make sure you continue to reach out and be transparent with your team about Agile expectations. After all, everything is being placed under the microscope so stay one step ahead of the concerns to build trust and encourage support for future initiatives.

Also, take a cue from Agile. Teams are conducting retrospectives after each iteration, right? Do the same with the groups that have a stake in what’s been accomplished. Round up the PMO, auditors, Product Management, InfoSec, IT leadership, and whomever else is needed, and reflect on what’s going well and what can be improved for future Agile initiatives. The core tenant to remember is that continuous improvement is the backbone of any Agile framework.

2. Add up Technical Debt

How much technical debt has built up? I’m talking about anything that will have to be done, or re-done, in order to keep everything “on the rails.” Defects, code that is temporary or just plain messy, architecture that isn’t quite where it should be, new servers or environments to support development and testing of the product — these are all examples of technical debt. While there will always be some amount of debt, watch that it doesn’t build up to where you can’t see the end.

In these fast-paced times, most organizations have fixed timelines and product scope so the only thing left to manipulate is quality. You must invest in the right tools to keep that quality high. There are unit test frameworks, static style analysis tools, automation testing IDE, and many more widgets out there that you can leverage.

3. Don’t Use Agile for Everything

Just because it was successful in one scenario, that doesn’t mean Agile should be used everywhere in your organization. For example, payroll processing is a set of known steps that are repeated ad infinitum. Don’t get me wrong, you can lean it up, but a whole new methodology probably won’t revolutionize anything for the payroll team.

On that note, be just as selective with the framework’s expansion as you were in getting Agile methodologies implemented in the first place. Then keep the motivation level high. The enthusiasm of your successes should permeate through the organization and, if that’s the case, people will be chomping at the bit to get on board your initiatives.

All in all, accept that change is hard but can pay off. The trick to efficient process change is to remember to manage the whole process, from organization and cultural transition to mindful scaling. If you don’t occasionally take a step back and evaluate your circumstances, you could leave the organization in a whole new state of chaos. When done well, however, scaled Agile methodologies can breathe life into an organization and allow for greater innovation, cost savings, and improved morale.