Eight steps toward successful “enterprise agile”

by | Jan 5, 2017

However, organizations can minimize the risk of failure by becoming “enterprise agile,” a methodology adopted from software development that emphasizes deploying the right resources in rapid iterations that culminate into milestones, deliverables and, ultimately, project success. Enterprise agile is both rigid and flexible. Many variations can be adopted by an organization, but the chosen methodology must be rigorously and consistently applied. It’s also a consistent way of operating that produces predictable results. Enterprise agile borrows some of the principles of technology agile, but it is distinctly different as it involves cross-functional participants from across an organization. It is a methodology that needs to be adopted by an entire organization.

While many start-ups are using agile methodologies, more and more larger, established organizations – including Fortune-500 companies – are applying this methodology – successfully!

Here are eight key points for managing a successful enterprise agile project.

  1. Start at the top. Begin with a clear strategy and goal prioritization. Most organizations we work with need two layers. First, document, prioritize and design the metrics/measurements for the overall organization. It’s best to use an annual, rolling strategy. Then, the execution plan for this strategy can be prioritized into portfolios and projects, with these feeding into the enterprise agile execution capability.
  1. Develop customer personas, and develop portfolios of “jobs to be done” based on those personas’ demonstrated user needs. Throughout execution, think and speak of initiatives from the perspective of these customer personas. This will help develop clear definitions of the customer needs while providing project members with a continuous reminder that the customer is at the center.
  1. Prioritize clearly within each portfolio to establish successful outcome metrics for each project, such as customer satisfaction, revenue or customer support. Determine the best products to be released with minimal effort, and then plan on multiple or continuous releases. Measure your success at each phase or release.
  1. Organize both vertical and horizontal agile teams. The horizontal teams work on capabilities, such as technology platforms, while the vertical teams create products or offerings that leverage the horizontal capabilities.
  1. Establish your enterprise agile methodology, rules and organization. There are many variants and choices, and your organization’s culture, capabilities and problems should determine the right choices.
  1. Select agile administrative tools and establish processes, reporting and cadence. These are important for both internal communications within and across the agile teams, and communications to executive leadership and across the organization. Provide full transparency and details.
  1. Agile isn’t an excuse to for unorganized, non-prioritized work. Create a balance between structure and flexibility. Not following established processes is a mistake that is often made in enterprise agile. Document the processes and communicate them well – and apply them with rigor. Having said that, processes need to be continuously evaluated and adjusted.
  1. Continuously improve and refine. Maximize your output through team productivity management and clear backlog prioritization at all levels.

Mod Op Strategic Consulting just completed a very successful two-year, multi-million dollar project with a client using enterprise agile. In this organization, many projects in the past 10 years had not been successful – however, this project was completed and received accolades from the organization’s Board of Directors. The methodology is now being applied in other parts of the company.

Mod Op Strategic Consulting itself also operates in an enterprise agile mode. We perform all our client work in sprints and apply fixed yet flexible capacity models. Which helps us live up to our motto: WGSD – we get stuff done!

Have you used enterprise agile in your projects? Tell us about your experiences.

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Adriaan Bouten


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