Five Ways to Scale Agile for the Enterprise

    Propelled by the resounding success of agile on a smaller scale, large global enterprises are increasingly trying to tap the power of agile across distributed teams and complex initiatives. However, while agile works well in the nimble setting of smaller teams and projects, finding the right recipe to make it work across the large-scale, complex enterprise environment is a tough order.  There are many challenges and the chance of failure looms large.

    In this slideshow, CI&T’s Felipe Brito walks through five critical steps to harness the potential of these self-sufficient teams to tackle bigger problems across the enterprise. It may be easier said than done, but agile can drive innovation and streamline the development process in a complex enterprise environment. While the agile manifesto is a great starting point, enterprises need to extend the manifesto horizons, assess the core business challenge, and create organizational momentum to solve that challenge. 

    Five Ways to Scale Agile for the Enterprise - slide 1

    Click through for five critical steps to harness the potential of agile teams across the enterprise, as identified by Felipe Brito, business director at CI&T.

    Five Ways to Scale Agile for the Enterprise - slide 2

    Establish an enterprise-wide conversation

    Agile, and especially enterprise agile, is all about change.  And to create an environment that embraces change, you must establish an enterprise-wide conversation to foster transparency, engage cross-functional teams and create champions. Be sure to involve leadership – they must lead by example and promote autonomy and trust by instilling a problem-solving mindset and encouraging responsible risk-taking. You will see significant strides when the leadership team and development team are connected because of the agile shift across the enterprise.

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    Be obsessed with your customers

    Because what are you without them? Fixating on your customers just enough is a powerful component so make sure you do these three things:

    1. Understand your customer: All areas of the enterprise must be driven to comprehend customer needs. Involve cross-functional groups and implement a product canvas methodology.  Encourage field exploration, group design thinking and journey map analysis of different personas to fully understand your customer. Only then can you tap into technology to devise a solution.
    2. Design for your customer: Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know enough – engage your customer early and often to create the best solution. Evolve your user experience and enhance the customer relationship by connecting with influencers. Don’t push narrow-sighted solutions. Pull confirmed needs.
    3. Deliver for your customer: Adopt a business value framework and stick with it. Prioritize business and technical features to deliver a value stream aligned to customer expectations. Be disciplined enough to establish cadence, but nimble enough to embrace change. Inspect, adapt and grow, always obsessed with business outcomes.

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    Foster organizational learning

    The concept of self-organized teams shows us that agile tackles the fragilities of older, prescriptive methodologies with more discipline, not less. And as agile is extended through the enterprise, discipline must be extended as well. Give your teams freedom, but make sure they are trained and leverage validated methods and tools. This fine balance between autonomy at the team level and integration at the organizational level is essential for success. You must also build communities of practice, establish collaboration tools for globally distributed teams and always source and provide feedback.

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    Technical challenges need a strategic response

    Complex programs that require technical integrations of multiple components experience frequent architectural issues. When connecting archaic legacy systems and newer/disruptive technologies, enterprise architecture proves daunting, and performance, infrastructure and security issues occur often. To alleviate these pains and others, establish an enterprise architecture roadmap in advance. Stimulate innovation so that new products and services can ride in the express lane within the organization. Rely on automation and speed. Implement DevOps. Build, test and integrate continuously and deliver frequently. Prevent build up of technical debt and synchronize delivery of multiple teams, prioritizing systems integration before launching releases. Tackle potential points of interaction and critical integrations early in the program.

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    Don’t be dogmatic

    While believing in the technical improvements available from an enterprise agile implementation, it’s important not to forget that at its core, the success of any enterprise agile project (or any project, for that matter) hinges on communication – clear, direct, regular communication across the organization. When multiple teams are engaged, alignment is a big challenge and a big risk. While scrum is a perfect solution at the team level, daily standup meetings are obviously not enough. Use Kanban at strategic and program levels to manage inter-team coordination. Fight for continuous business and technology alignment and insist on frequent demos to the business. Find a chief product owner who has accountability and authority with the different groups to oversee the entire program. Establish and evolve metrics that lead to actionable insights.

    As you deal with this continuous transformation, delivering large programs to internal or external customers, you will realize that scaling agility inside the enterprise is an evolutionary and enthralling endeavor. 

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