Four Roadblocks to Agile Adoption and How Enterprises Can Overcome Them

1 - Four Roadblocks to Agile Adoption and How Enterprises Can Overcome Them
2 - Roadblock No. 1: Management
3 - Roadblock No. 2: The Status Quo
4 - Roadblock No. 3: Longstanding Corporate Structure, Architecture and Processes
5 - Roadblock No. 4: Budget
6 - Solution No. 1:  Top-Down and Bottom-Up Buy In
7 - Solution No. 2: Trust Between Technical and Business Teams
8 - Solution No. 3: Close Proximity and Cultural Match of Developers, Business Units
9 - Solution No. 4: Transparency of Results Throughout Adoption
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Four Roadblocks to Agile Adoption and How Enterprises Can Overcome Them

by Darryl K. Taft

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Roadblock No. 1: Management

Agile's emphasis on self-governing teams affects managerial roles. Learning how to manage an autonomous team requires new/different skills. Managers no longer know what their specific role is in a more open/Agile enterprise and can feel powerless within a transformed organization. This fear of powerlessness and aversion to learning a new way to work are potent motivators for those who oppose any Agile adoption.

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Roadblock No. 2: The Status Quo

Those who are most comfortable with current software development methodologies are roadblocks to Agile adoption. These actors are not limited to the IT department, as Agile's rapid iterations change the dynamics of the entire enterprise. Acting against the status quo or going against the grain, when there is not a critical mass of adopters, is a significant challenge to overcome.

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Roadblock No. 3: Longstanding Corporate Structure, Architecture and Processes

To improve software development, enterprises must rework departments, processes and architectures. In their current incarnation, they are typically structured in a waterfall methodology—top-down with little room to modify or improve processes. They stand as roadblocks to the innovation, strategies and outcomes enabled by Agile.

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Roadblock No. 4: Budget

A traditional waterfall enterprise lacks the budgeting flexibility to implement Agile. Requirements and spend are dictated at the beginning of a project. Agile's iterative process allows you to incorporate changes to business priorities or updates to technology along the way. Budget allocation and ROI calculations must be adjusted accordingly or they prevent Agile from delivering working products and realizing incremental value sooner.

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Solution No. 1: Top-Down and Bottom-Up Buy In

The key to crumbling the management roadblock is giving them ownership of Agile adoption. Leadership must also empower line-of-business owners to adopt Agile principles and practices that will make the largest and most immediate impact to their business unit. Showing this impact as soon as possible will turn all levels into Agile advocates.

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Solution No. 2: Trust Between Technical and Business Teams

Agile success doesn't just happen. Teams need to build trust both internally and with outside actors. All those affected should commit resources to the adoption. They should have skin in the game. This builds confidence among other departments that everyone is invested in success rather than offering lip service to the transformation.

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Solution No. 3: Close Proximity and Cultural Match of Developers, Business Units

To fully unlock the transformative power of Agile, developers should be on-site or as close as possible to their business counterparts. Proximity facilitates more meaningful, strategic and higher-bandwidth conversations, which yield faster and better results. Teams, especially outsourced ones, must be aligned with the business's overall philosophy and goals and be able to mesh with internal project owners. Understanding product and business goals will speed delivery and results.

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Solution No. 4: Transparency of Results Throughout Adoption

Nothing eliminates roadblocks better than success. Keep lines of communication open. Identify key performance metrics, track them and regularly report on them. The more you share, the more trust you build. The quicker you show the value in what's done, the quicker you win over naysayers.

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