Five Steps to a Successful Agile Transformation Agile transformation enables organizations to adapt to change and seize market opportunities through empowering teams and collaboration. Brian Buchkosky Global Director, PMO Consuelo Merino Director of Operations, MentorMate Agile transformation is a fundamental part of any successful digital transformation life cycle. It sets up the engineering aspect of product development for success and ensures flexibility and reactive zeal of cooperating teams throughout the enterprise. What is Agile transformation? In simplest terms, Agile transformation is adopting agile principles that extend beyond product software development methodologies and foster a flexible, iterative mindset throughout an organization. Its goal is to enable organizations to become adaptive to change and seize market opportunities through empowering teams and collaboration. Before taking a closer look at the five steps to a successful Agile transformation, it is important to remember that middle management simply cannot lead an organization-wide change of this scope on their own. The offset must be driven by the top-level management of the organization. Otherwise, it will fail. Furthermore, Agile cannot be siloed away from good product management and excellent user experience design work. While Agile transformation accounts for how the engineering delivery is managed, it has to move in tandem with design thinking and good strategy to unleash the product’s full potential. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get started. Step #1: Bring in an Agile coach from outside your organization. In a previous article, we talked about the pitfalls of unsuccessful digital transformation, and at the top of that list still stands the false transition to Agile. As a first step, it is important to bring in an outside expert who has coached organizations through Agile transformation. An Agile coach can help develop an organization’s understanding of the Agile processes and ensure that the teams adapt to them, rather than only adopting the titles, without changing the work process — essentially just doing a “rebranding” exercise. Of course, this won’t be possible without the organization’s leadership leading the way to change. Step #2: Appoint a product owner who is familiar with Agile and the organization’s current processes Despite undergoing an Agile transformation, many companies expect to receive traditional reporting about the projects. The reality is that the Agile process might produce different reports than the ones organizations are familiar with. That is when an experienced product owner familiar with the company and Agile can step into the role of a mediator, or rather an interpreter of sorts. A person in this role can produce traditional work breakdown structures, Gantt charts, and all of the things that PMOs often expect to have that don’t get naturally produced by the Agile process. Step #3: Commit to the process and give it time Change takes time. And accomplishing meaningful change in behavior takes even longer. People need to be coached to develop a personal understanding of how they’re supposed to do their jobs differently than they used to. That is why it is vital to commit to the transformation process and expect it to take some time. Coach long-term and allow the outside expert time to work with your teams. An iterative Change Management Plan eases the organizational transformation, and investing time in the transformation process will pay off with faster and more effective product development. Step #4: Address pushback Pushback during the initial transition period, especially for teams unfamiliar with Agile, is to be expected. There’s always a pinch of uncertainty regarding change, and it’s human nature to feel uncomfortable with something we don’t understand. That is why it is important to deal with that pushback and let teams work with the Agile coach to address their concerns. The Agile process includes retrospectives that allow teams to have open and honest discussions about what works for them and what does not. Share their experience throughout the sprints and form suggestions on improving and adapting the process so that they might be more comfortable with it. Step #5: Adopt the right mindset Mindset change is challenging, and it all comes back full circle to the part the Agile coach has to play in a product organization’s transformation. The coach’s role is not only to help teams adopt the mechanics of the process but to assess and ease the mindset transformation within an organization. Agile’s ultimate value is achieving the same product development results faster and focusing more on actual user and market needs. It prevents teams from building the wrong thing and allows timely course-correcting measures to avoid big failures and spending. Final thoughts Undergoing a successful Agile transformation allows product organizations to leverage the strengths of iterative product development. Combining it with human-centered design practices for thorough user research and business strategy is a recipe for building successful and user-oriented products. Tags Agile Software ProcessDevelopmentAgile Software ProcessStrategyDigital Transformation Share Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter Agile Software Development Why businesses need remote Agile teams & questions to ask before starting. Download Share Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter Sign up for our monthly newsletter. Sign up for our monthly newsletter.