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You’ve heard about digital transformation, and you know that it’s essential for businesses to stay competitive in the modern age. But how do you lead a successful agile and digital transformation?
One of the things we've learned over the years is that digital transformation projects are best handled using agile methodology. Agile teams provide effective collaboration, flexibility and continuous improvement, making them a natural fit for digital transformation initiatives. In the most turbulent environment, agile principles can ensure your projects are completed reliably and responsively.
What is agile?
An agile team is a development team that comprises a variety of skills and roles - usually software developers, project managers, designers, and marketing professionals - working together to accomplish a common goal.
The team has a designated Scrum Master who is responsible for team and project management. They keep the team on track, ensuring that agile values run through the core of the project and that everyone is making progress towards the goal. Agile development uses iterative processes that allow projects to quickly respond to changing customer priorities and market conditions, enabling them to develop and launch new products or services at pace.
Agile project management
Agile digital transformation can include technical change, software development, and cultural change.
Agile projects often begin with gathering user stories to understand the gap between business performance and customer expectations. Then technical and non technical teams come together to form a cross functional group for project delivery. They will create a project strategy using agile methodologies, and work in sprints. As solutions evolve, the sprint order is decided through continuous feedback and the scrum team sprint retrospective.
Agile for digital transformation is based on 4 core values, known as the Agile Manifesto. Those values are:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan.
There are also 12 principles expressed within the Agile Manifesto. All agile software development projects run using these principles:
- Satisfying customers through early and continuous delivery of valuable work.
- Welcoming changing requirements, even late in a project.
- Delivering working software frequently, with short timescales.
- Business people and developers collaborating on a daily basis throughout the project.
- Building projects around motivated individuals - giving them the right environment and support, and trusting them to get the job done.
- Having face to face conversations for the most efficient and effective information sharing.
- Measuring progress by the amount of completed development work.
- Maintaining a steady, continuous pace in order to be sustainable.
- Continually seeking technical excellence and good design.
- Keeping things simple and maximising work not done.
- Bringing together self-organizing teams for the best software products and designs.
- Having the team reflect at regular intervals on how to become more effective, adjusting behaviour as needed.
But with so many rules to follow, why choose to implement agile practices into your organisation? In fact, agile has proven itself to be a successful management tool, both for project management and software development.
Here are some of the ways we’ve seen agile benefit our working practices, as well as our clients’ projects.
Agile development is that it enables teams to move fast - it's one of the greatest advantages of using agile project management. Your teams will be able to respond to business needs as customer expectations and priorities shift. Agile practices give your team the opportunity to tailor innovation to customer feedback, changing development to align with ever-shifting consumer priorities, and allowing for continuous delivery.
Because sprints are short, agile software development teams can adapt more quickly to technology and audience changes than more traditional methods of software development. It ensures the right product is developed through team collaboration and flexibility, regularly checking back in with the needs of the customer.
One of the core agile approaches is iterative development. Instead of trying to plan out every detail of a project before starting, your team works in short cycles to build a solid foundation but with the option to make changes and improvements as they go. This approach works particularly well with digital transformation projects, where the technology and requirements are constantly evolving.
An iterative approach allows you to quickly pivot if something isn’t working or if you're receiving unexpected results. It also enables you to assess customer feedback, early and often, so you can make sure you’re on the right track.
Collaboration Across Teams
Digital transformation projects will require collaboration across multiple departments within your company. Whilst this can sometimes be challenging, it’s an area where agile can really shine. By working in cross-functional teams and breaking down silos, agile teams can ensure that everyone is aligned around the same goals and working towards the same vision.
Fostering a culture of collaboration and open communication means creating a shared vision and roadmap that everyone can get behind. It also means breaking down any barriers between teams and finding ways to work together more effectively.
Using Data-Driven Insights
Data-driven insights are crucial for any digital transformation project, especially when developing software, or you run the risk of wasting time and money on the wrong products. You need to be able to measure the impact of your initiatives and adjust your approach based on what the data tells you. This is where agile methods can really help. By emphasising the importance of consistently analysing feedback and being open to continuous improvement your project will develop more fluidly. This in turn will help you spot opportunities to try different approaches and bring in specialist personnel.
Agile focuses on collecting and analysing data at every stage of the project and from everyone involved. This includes setting up analytics and tracking tools and regularly reviewing the data to see what’s working and what’s not. It also means using the gathered data to make informed decisions about what to prioritise and how to allocate resources.
Using these insights will help agile teams make better decisions about the progress and direction of the project. It'll also help to create a learning organization - removing assumptions and incomplete theories will ensure your teams are continually growing their knowledge. The advantage of agile practices is that even if goals are shifted, or market forces dictate new directions, the flow of the project remains constant. Like a river meandering towards the sea, it naturally finds its way.
Implementing Agile in Your Organisation: 5 Steps
Agile project management gives a successful framework for organisations to move forward at pace. Here are five simple steps that will help you get started in becoming an agile organisation:
- Identify the skills you need for your agile team and create a list of job descriptions, including product owner, project manager, and software development team members.
- Start recruiting for the positions, making sure to prioritise candidates who are experienced with agile methodologies, agile software development, and agile product management.
- Once you’ve recruited your team members, assign a Scrum Master who will be responsible for managing the team, keeping them on track, and ensuring they are making progress towards their goals.
- Begin transitioning to an agile environment by establishing team collaboration and project management tools such as a shared project board, and setting up daily standup meetings.
- Monitor the team’s progress and provide feedback to ensure they are making progress towards the project goal.
Following these five steps will start you on your journey towards creating an agile environment, leading to more profitable and efficient delivery.
Leading a digital transformation can be a daunting task, but agile teams are well-equipped to handle the challenge. By taking an iterative approach, developing collaborative development teams, and using data-driven operations, you can ensure that your digital transformation project is a success.
Remember, digital transformation isn’t just about implementing new technologies – it’s about creating a culture of innovation and continuous improvement that can help your business thrive in the digital age. With an agile mindset and approach, you can ensure your development process reacts quickly to customer needs and expectations, enabling you to stay on track even when the track changes.
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