Agile Implementation and IT's Role
Technical Project Manager Ken Bewley discusses the Agile Methodology and some of the issues to look out for...
In IT we often have to adapt to a plethora of different workflows used by different companies and teams. On a rare occasion we may get some input on these workflows and how they will be affected by the tools and processes already in place, but it’s definitely not common. Usually we must adapt and work through any problems with these workflows and methodologies in real time and across the entire scope of an implementation. We deal with the applications folks use to track their work, the sign offs and gates used to validate and approve, and even how customers may report issues or problems they experience whether it be in a slack channel, google form, or through some sort of ticket.
It can be hard to tell where these workflows break down but our roles as support staff and problem solvers for the entire organization can give us insight into issues folks of a single business unit may not see. Agile, one of the most widely adopted groups of methodologies in IT departments, can have a host of issues and as such is a great example of what to look for when you are evaluating and troubleshooting a workflow that doesn’t seem to be measuring up.
Below are some of the most common issues experienced by teams implementing Agile workflows, and by noticing them early it can make discussing solutions and implementing fixes easier for everyone involved.
Resistance to Change: Agile requires a significant shift in mindset and work practices. Traditional teams used to a more structured, waterfall approach may resist the iterative, collaborative nature of Agile.
Lack of Training and Understanding: Without proper training and a clear understanding of Agile principles, teams can struggle to implement them effectively. This can lead to a superficial adoption of Agile practices without embracing its core values.
Overemphasis on Speed: Agile's iterative nature can lead to an overemphasis on speed and frequent deliveries. This sometimes results in compromised quality or burnout among team members.
Inadequate Planning: While Agile promotes adaptability, insufficient planning can lead to scope creep, where the project continuously grows beyond its original boundaries without proper control.
Poor Communication: Agile relies heavily on constant communication and collaboration. Poor communication among team members, stakeholders, or with the customer can lead to misunderstandings and project failure.
Resource Challenges: Agile teams often require cross-functional members with a broad range of skills. Finding and retaining such talent can be challenging.
Scaling Challenges: Implementing Agile in small teams is often straightforward, but scaling it to larger teams or across the organization can be complex and fraught with challenges.
Inconsistent Practices Across Teams: Different teams might adopt various Agile methodologies (like Scrum, Kanban, etc.), leading to inconsistency in how Agile is practiced across the organization.
Lack of Commitment from Leadership: Successful Agile transformation requires commitment from top management. Without this, Agile implementation can lack direction and support.
Measurement and Tracking Issues: Traditional performance metrics might not align well with Agile practices, making it hard to track progress and measure success effectively.
Dependency on Customer Involvement: Agile often requires regular customer feedback, which can be challenging if the customer is not available or committed to this level of involvement.
Cultural Fit: Not all organizational cultures are conducive to the Agile way of working. In some cases, the culture of the organization may need to adapt, which can be a slow and challenging process. Addressing these pain points usually requires a combination of strong leadership, effective training, good communication, and a willingness to adapt and refine Agile practices to fit the unique context of the organization.
Agile like other methodologies and frameworks for managing projects and change are designed to make things easier. If things are getting harder it’s probably a good sign that something needs to be addressed. Hopefully this list can give you some good examples of the issues that are commonly run into when implementing a new workflow or methodology and what to look out for when you are involved in this sort of implementation project.