Mistake No. 2: Practicing Agile in Silos

By Ian Culling  |  Posted 2010-07-08 Print this article Print

Mistake No. 2: Practicing agile in silos

Because agile is often a grassroots-driven phenomenon, processes and practices sometimes evolve out of sync. Different teams within the same organization try different methodologies, follow separate standards or even implement specific practices in dissimilar ways.

These teams often operate in silos, unaware of what others in the organization may be doing in terms of agile. As a result, they may have developed their own working methodology with their own preferred practices and tracking and reporting systems. This works in small environments but can be disadvantageous as agile methods spread through the organization. Even small inconsistencies can lead to significant difficulties in integration, tracking and productivity.

To combat this "silo syndrome," a majority of companies that have succeeded in scaling agile have leveraged an internal, service-oriented team dedicated to the consolidation, promotion and dissemination of agile knowledge and practices. Since every company tailors agile methodologies and processes to work within their specific business model and constraints, it falls to this core team to spread the word and act as a resource to new teams as they transition to agile development methods.

With in-house access to their company's unique brand of agile, customized to their specific needs and culture, new teams can obtain best practices, recommendations and strategies from this readily available repository. Having this reference team and centralized body of knowledge also provides a significant leverage point from which the entire company can learn and grow.

Ian Culling is CTO at VersionOne. Ian brings more than 20 years of broad IT experience to the CTO role. Ian lends tremendous expertise to his areas of responsibility, including software product management, design and development, and enterprise IT. Ian has significant practical experience with the introduction, scaling and adaptive execution of agile methods, having initially implemented strict XP with a single team in 2000. Since that time, Ian has progressed to lead and coach both small and large organizations in their transition to agile methods. Prior to joining VersionOne, Ian led the adoption of agile methods at Alogent Corporation as vice president of development, leveraging aspects of Scrum for scaling across multiple teams and products. This, combined with select XP developer practices and approach for planning and tracking, resulted in a Scrum-wrapped XP implementation (now a fairly common model within the agile community today). He can be reached at ian.culling@versionone.com.

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