I work in an environment where Agile software development is key – swift response to stakeholder requirements, frequent/continuous delivery of solutions, confident delivery estimates and only committing to what capacity allows. This is all monitored and controlled with a small number of key performance metrics.
The benefits of Agile are also being used to underpin a transformation programme that I am running across the business.
The transformation agenda has a very wide remit, but is based on a range of diverse requirements, analogous with a comprehensive product backlog. The pressure to deliver is high, with a need to frequently demonstrate that transformation is taking place (“continuously deliver”). The end-game of transformation is uncertain and continually evolving (there are no benchmarks, nor clear visionaries to emulate) so the programme plan only predicts near term milestones, with the option to change direction if necessary.
The programme itself is divided into several sprint teams – each with a clear capacity profile and regular meetings (scrums). The sprint teams themselves come up with the delivery estimates to retain that delivery confidence. Iterations are frequent and deliver a fixed set of requirements. All of this is monitored with small number of metrics – requirements delivered (burndown/burn rate), capacity, milestone progress and forecast completion. An Agile approach to transformation ensures benefits are delivered early and frequently – iterations should always have a clear benefit statement in mind.
The things to focus on when projects are Agile, I’ve found, are these – get on top of, and stay on top of, the requirement. Keep it fresh, keep it stakeholder centric and ensure it is reviewed and communicated regularly. Iterate frequently, focussing on delivering only what is possible within the time allowed, to the highest quality. Don’t look too far ahead – things change too rapidly to plan a year out. However as the leader always keep an eye on the bigger picture and weave together iterations to deliver the big ticket items. Most of all empower the people within the teams – to do the detailed planning, estimating, reporting and (most important of all) let them get on with the high-quality delivery.