Organizational Adoption of Agility and Business Transformation

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Organizations adopt agility in order to respond effectively to internal and external changes. In fact, business leaders cannot make do only with responses to stimuli; they adopt organizational agility in order to initiate rapid changes of their own. For most modern business leaders, the weekly or even daily reporting structure that facilitates decision making appears outdated. Appropriate and timely updates on the status of a business to facilitate decision making are required. Business transformation for Agile is an attempt to enable the business to achieve the agility that enables it to respond rapidly to changes and, at the same time, initiate its own creative changes.

The change to an Agile business brings about a change to the organization's internal operating structure, alters its relationship with external parties, and affects the business ecosystem. This wide-ranging impact of changing to an Agile business is ratified by Brenner (2009) who says "One common error in attempting large-scale adoption of Agile methods is the assumption that the impact of the change in software development methodology will not cross the boundaries of seemingly unrelated entities of the business, such as human resources, facilities, legal, or plant security."

Transforming to an Agile business depends significantly on the type and size of business, the goals of transformation, and the subsequent deliverables. For example, a small transport company would transform only its operational processes, whereas a large auto manufacturer will transform all its business dimensions to Agile simultaneously.

There is further need to segregate processes that relate directly to the operation of the business and the process that handles the business transformation. Successful ABT needs to consider the two aforementioned processes separately. The business transformation process considers the activities and tasks that need to be undertaken for transformation, the people who will undertake the transformation, and the deliverables that will be produced at the end of the exercise. The other suite of processes includes the existing organizational processes that will change as a result of the transformation. Similarly, the roles of those that effect the transformation and of those that get transformed are different and need to be formally recognized. For example, the people involved in transforming the business include the decision makers, business analysts, process experts, and regulators. Examples of roles that undergo transformation include managers, developers, designers, and testers. External parties such as customers and business partners also undergo change when Agile is adopted.

Unhelkar and Ginige (2010) have also presented an approach to deriving strategic and consolidated business transformations that can be applied to adopting Agile across the organization. Such transformation includes changes to the enterprise, its people, and processes, its enterprise architecture (EA), as well as its technologies. In such wide-ranging changes, not all impacts can be identified by organizations adopting agility. However, they can all be brought into consideration by iterating the adoption of Agility through a framework such as CAMS.

The transformation and Agile adoption can change depending on the type and size of the business. For example, in the case of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), not all types of deliverables (such as detailed architecture documents or planned user training) are required. In case of large and global organizations, a significant amount of planning, budgeting, and organization of resources is required for successful adoption of agility across the enterprise. Depending on the demographics of the organization, it can take from 1 to 3 years for a composite Agile approach to be fully adopted and integrated within the organization. This time is required to equip and train the organization (typically its Center of Excellence [CoE] for CAMS) in the organizational methods/processes/standards in use, their "methods friction," and approach to implementing CAMS. CAMS implementation begins with the creation of process elements within a repository. These repositories can be used to select appropriate elements and configure an instance of CAMS. Enabling an organization to configure and instantiate its own CAMS is a part of successful Agile transformation.

Apart from the methods in use, the organization, as an operating entity, can have its own business and technical challenges. Adoption of agility across the organization aims to help the organization abate those challenges. The existing state of the organization, possibly with troubled projects and lumbering organizational functions, presents a separate dimension to the challenges in organizational adoption of agility. These existing organizational challenges, coupled with issues associated with ABT, can become formidable in a short span of time because of their complexity. CAMS brings about changes to the organization, which include its business strategies and methods, its use of standards and practices, its project management methods, and its EA and design standards. Separating the business transformation for Agility and the existing organizational responsibilities is advisable in reducing the overall complexity of Agile adoption.

Taken from : The Art of Agile Practice: A Composite Approach for Projects and Organizations

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