What Is Agile Transformation And How Do You Do It?

What Is Agile Transformation And How Do You Do It?

Ready to learn about Agile transformation?

Well, you’re not the only one! 

Around half of all businesses worldwide use Agile practices.

But why?

For starters, enterprise Agility has been linked to lower project failure rates, greater profits, and faster production, all of which are important traits businesses require to succeed. 

(Coincidence? Maybe not.)

And in 2020, ‘Survival of the Fittest’ rings true for most businesses. 

So it makes sense for organizations to be more Agile.

In this article, we’ll take a look at business agility and how an organization can undergo an Agile transformation.  As an added bonus, we’ll also give away the ‘secret sauce’ that can help you on your Agile transformation journey. 😉

This article contains:

(click on links to jump to a specific section)

Let’s go!

What is Agile?

When people think of Agile, they think of Agile software development or Agile management. 

While they’re not wrong, that isn’t the whole picture!

At the core of it all, Agile is a combination of every Agile principle and value listed in the 2001 Agile manifesto. These principles are the things that helped Agile development and management to come into existence.

When the Manifesto came out, these ideas revolutionized the way we look at project management! 

Think of that moment as being similar to when Darwin published On the Origin of Species, making the concept of evolution mainstream!

Before Agile, the process of developing software took months and even years. When the Agile approach rolled around, software development evolved overnight. 

Now developers could produce a piece of software in just a few weeks, using the Agile methodology.

Over the years, the Agile framework has evolved even further and led to different Agile management methodologies like Scrum, Kanban, XP, and many more curious Agile species. 

Note: If you want to know how Agile development works, click here.

Now let’s find out how the Agile method plays a big role in Agile transformation.

What is Agile transformation?

Agile transformation gives your organization a complete makeover.

In this process, your entire organization, including its employees, adopt the Agile method.

However, Agile transformation doesn’t mean merely showing your teams how to use a Scrum board.

That’s like putting a mane on a Golden Retriever and calling it a lion!

At first, it looks like one, but the illusion quickly wears off once the lion starts barking!

The same is true for Agile transformation. 

Your organization shouldn’t just focus on ‘looking Agile’… It needs to follow the Agile way, right down to its very core. 

This entails:

  • Thinking Agile: adopting the Agile mindset 
  • Being Agile: creating self-organizing teams 
  • Living Agile: creating a work culture of innovation 
  • Leading Agile: reducing redundant layers of management 

However, be sure to avoid mistaking Agile transformation for Agile adoption.

What’s the difference between Agile adoption and transformation?

Agile adoption means following a few Agile practices or processes at the team level. In most cases, when a team says they’re ‘adopting Agile’, that means they’re trying to mimic an Agile or Scrum team

Here are a few differences between Agile adoption and transformation:

  1. Agile adoption doesn’t always require the entire organization to change, but transformation requires everyone to be on board.
  2. Adoptions can take a week, but the Agile transformation journey takes years!
  3. Agile adoption may increase productivity by a tiny percentage, but transformation can make your enterprise 3x more productive!

What Are The Benefits of Agile Transformation?

A surge in productivity isn’t the only benefit of enterprise agility

Here are a few more reasons why you should consider enterprise Agile transformation:

1. Higher project success

Here’s a fun fact for you:

When your organization goes on an Agile journey, their projects are twice as successful as compared to traditional projects!

Note: Here, ‘success’ means the Agile team was able to deliver everything that they promised to its customers.

2. Flexibility

Traditional project management requires projects to have well-detailed and fixed plans. 

Once the plan is made, there is no room for change.

This method can be limiting for many team members, who would naturally want a way out!

But when your organization uses Agile values, your team will no longer feel caged. They will have the freedom to create solutions their way, the Agile way!

Your team has the flexibility to test different solutions to see what works and what doesn’t. 

And the organization, as a whole, gains the agility to switch their business strategy to meet with market demands.

3. Continuous improvement

Agile teams are always learning and collaborating throughout regular sprints (short bursts of work ranging from 2-4 weeks). 

At the end of each sprint, they review the performance and look for ways to improve.

Continuous improvement allows everyone to expand their own knowledge, and their learning can be put to good use during a sprint.

4. Better team communication

Agile management introduces many important meetings into the workplace. 

However, these meetings aren’t like regular meetings.

Each of them has a special purpose that can help different Agile teams share knowledge among themselves.

Want to learn more about these Agile meetings? Click here.

5. Increased transparency

With regular meetings comes regular project updates.

As a result, every Agile team member knows what is going on within the entire organization. And leadership teams can set reasonable expectations for their team, as they know what their team members are capable of.

How to Start Your Agile Transformation Journey

Now that you know why it’s important to achieve business agility, you might be interested in bringing this organizational change to your business.

Unfortunately, business agility isn’t a switch you can turn off and on (but we do wish it was!)

It takes years for your organization to gain agility, and it requires a considerable amount of effort. 

But don’t worry.

We’ve created a step-by-step plan that can make your Agile journey a little bit easier:

1. Understand why you want to go Agile

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of Agile transformation, it’s up to you to decide why your entire organization should embrace Agile

You might want to fix a problem your organization might be facing. 

For example, your product development team might be releasing software as slowly as a sleepy sloth!

2. Create transformational goals

Now that you know ‘why’ you want an Agile transformation, it’s time to figure out ‘how.’

And that’s where your organizational transformation strategy comes in.

You can’t create a strategy without having a transformation goal, right?

While creating your goal, make sure it’s not as vague as ‘Go Agile by 2021’.

It should be specific and measurable

For example: ‘Increase the number of annual software releases from 1 to 3 by 2021’.

3. Find Agile champions

To achieve these goals, you need to identify people that can drive teams to work towards business agility.

That sounds like the job for an Agile champion!

An Agile champion is an experienced professional (like a QA lead, dev lead, etc.), who is keen on implementing Agile.

4. Align the organization with the solutions

After choosing an Agile champion, you should delegate responsibilities to begin Agile processes. 

However, they shouldn’t try to create an Agile organization all on their own! 

Instead, they should start from the team level.

For example, a small development team of 10-15 people is a great candidate to start your Agile journey.

The Agile champions should then start rolling out Agile processes like:

  • Creating Agile teams
  • Set up Agile coaching and mentoring for new Scrum masters
  • Introduce new Agile ceremonies
  • Launch an Agile pilot test

5. Institute Agile practices

At this stage, your team is warmed up for the organizational change

Your Agile champion, along with the Agile consultant, should slowly prime the work environment for a successful Agile transformation. 

How?

They can gradually change the way teams do work, with the help of Agile principles mentioned in the Agile manifesto.

For example:

The Agile manifesto states that Agile teams should prefer ‘Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.

So while creating a product, the Agile development team can collaborate with customers by asking them for regular feedback.

6. Plan a rollout strategy 

This stage is similar to pollination, believe it or not!

Senior leaders take up the role of the bees, spreading the Agile pollen to the entire organization.

To do this, they establish an Agile PMO (Project management office). 

The Agile PMO is a management body that oversees Agile projects and ensures that the project team is using the Agile practice correctly.

The senior leaders also create a roadmap or timeline that tells the organization: 

  • What steps they’ll take towards Agile transformation
  • When they’re going to do it
  • How long it would take for a successful Agile transformation

7. Start Agile training

After the structure has been decided, it’s time for your teams to go back to school!

You’ll have to bring in Agile champions, and an Agile consultant to teach these courses.

Some example courses include:

  • Switching from a fixed mindset to an Agile mindset
  • Agile framework updates (Scrum, Kanban, XP, Lean, etc.)
  • Understanding the new roles and responsibilities (Scrum Master, Product Owner, etc.)
  • Implementing Agile for large teams with Scaled Agile Framework 

Along with courses, they would also introduce Agile project management tools, like Scrum or Kanban boards, Agile dashboards, etc.

8. Share guidance artifacts

You should also share important training materials that will make things easier for your teams during the training phase.

Materials such as:

  • Course schedules and coaching materials
  • Visuals, diagram, charts detailing the Agile process
  • Agile workflow/Agile delivery  process templates

9. Bring in an Agile coach

The Agile transformation process is like taking a big leap, so it’s quite difficult to get it right the first time around.

That bunny would have fared better if he had a trainer, right?

Fortunately for new Agile teams, you can hire an Agile coach!

They are certified Agile professionals that can help your team crush their transformational goals. 

Here are some of the responsibilities of an Agile coach

  • Work closely with leadership and employees on various Agile projects
  • Help teams follow Agile delivery processes  
  • Teach teams how to practice using Scrum and Kanban 

10. Track goals and adapt

Remember the goals you’ve set earlier?

You’ll need to monitor your team’s progress regularly to track them. 

The Agile transformation process may take some time to be effective. 

So if you’re still not meeting your goals, you’ll need to try a different Agile approach.

You’ll also need to measure how Agile your organization actually is.

How do you do that?

Two words: Agile maturity.

An Agile maturity assessment looks at all the processes within the entire organization and determines how often your team uses Agile values and principles.

Roadblocks You Might Face During Your Agile Journey

Since this organizational transformation is a huge undertaking, you’re definitely going to run into a few problems. 

Let’s take a look at what to expect during Agile transformation:

1. Resistance to change

Let’s face it; accepting change isn’t easy

Everyone has a fixed routine or habits that help them deal with life and work. 

Even animals like the Koala bear have a daily routine of eating eucalyptus leaves every hour!

But your team members aren’t Koalas! 

Unless you work at the zoo, of course.

They can gradually adapt to a new system of work, only if they know why your organization is switching to Agile.

Here’s how you can ease their fears:

Before training them about Agile methodology, they should understand the Agile mindset or the philosophy of Agile. Encourage them to voice out their anxieties about the Agile approach, so you can provide solutions to them.

2. Rushing the Agile transformation process

Your team’s Agile journey is important for your business to succeed.

So it should never be rushed, ever. 

A successful Agile transformation requires a 5-10 year plan that:

  • Transforms the mindset of senior leaders
  • Gradually changes work culture 
  • Changes structure of the organization

With a proper plan in place, an Agile organization can scale up (increase the size of teams and operations), with Agile frameworks like Scaled Agile Framework.

3. Lack of fixed team members

A cheetah would fit in with an Agile team

Why?

Because they’re required to work quickly under tight deadlines, which they often do in the wild!

In order to do this, your Agile or Scrum team should work closely as a unit, providing reliable Agile delivery. 

But if few team members are pulled away from the Agile team to work on other tasks, it would slow down the entire team’s progress.

Your organizational transformation plan should ensure that your Agile development team has consistent team members. This way, your Scrum team can move from one sprint to another, without losing stamina and speed like our spotted friend!

4. Not involving senior leadership

To achieve business agility, you need to ensure everyone is on board, especially the senior leaders.

After all, when your organization inevitably faces a bump on their transformation journey, it’s up to the leadership to keep everything afloat. 

If there is no leadership buy-in, they might even scrap your Agile efforts to save up on costs!

But don’t worry, there’s a simple solution.

The leadership team needs to be actively involved during the Agile pilot project (trial project), 

so they can experience the powers of Agile first-hand. This way, they’ll be less resistant to it and will help with its adoption.

5. Lack of sufficient Agile project management tools

Since many of the team members in your organization would be using the Agile method for the first time, they would require tons of guidance from an Agile leader.

However, most organizations fail to invest in proper tools, resources, guides, and coaching materials to help their team

Without these support resources, teams would find it difficult to stick to the Agile mindset

And it might take them even longer to finish projects even after switching to Agile! 

How do you deal with this problem?

Fortunately, there are many Agile project management tools to help teams adapt quickly to the Agile way!

The Best Tool To Guide You Through Your Transformation Journey

So what’s the secret behind a successful Agile transformation?

It’s the tools that help you along the way!

Agile project management tools like ClickUp allow your teams to adapt to Agile without a hitch!

What’s ClickUp?

ClickUp is one of the world’s highest-rated Agile management software. It’s used by 100,000+ teams from startups to large Agile organizations like Uber, Nike, Airbnb, and more, ClickUp has all the features you need to implement Agile successfully.

Now, let’s take a look at some features that can ease you into the Agile method:

A. Goals

Remember the transformational goals we mentioned earlier?

ClickUp can help you create, and even track them!

In ClickUp, Goals are high-level containers that can be broken down into smaller Targets. Targets are small and measurable objectives that can be tracked with ease.

For example:

Your enterprise agility Goal could be: 

Increase the number of annual software releases from 1 to 3 by 2021’. 

While your Targets can be a list of 3 tasks that need to be completed in order to develop the 3 software releases.

Each time a team member completes a task, the progress percentage updates in real-time. This motivates your team to be even more productive because they can actually see the impact their work has on their goal!

B. Timeline View

This feature is great for your Agile PMO.

Why?

It allows them to create detailed visual roadmaps for the Agile rollout plan. 

The Timeline view allows you to create your team’s schedule and the sequence in which they need to complete tasks.

But that’s not all, folks!

The project timeline allows you to:

  • Assign tasks to Agile team members from the timeline
  • Visualize the tasks by day, week or month
  • Group tasks by assignee and visualize the workload of a specific team member

C. Docs

ClickUp Docs are a great place to create all your Agile coaching documents and materials.

You can also add and link multiple pages within a single Doc, which is great for training guides and knowledge bases.

Your Agile consultant and coach can also work remotely on the same Agile coaching guide in real-time, just like so: 

Here are a few more interesting things you can do with Docs:

  • Store Docs alongside your project files and tasks
  • Use rich-text formatting to add headings, ‘quotes’, bold, italic, and underline text
  • Share project documents with shareholders
  • Allow your documents to be indexed by search engines, so they can be found through a quick Google search

D. Dashboards

Always remember that your Agile team needs to focus on continuous improvement.

But how can they do that?

With Agile metrics!

Agile metrics help your team understand which processes are going swell, and which aren’t going too well.

That’s why ClickUp offers fully-customizable Dashboards to track your team’s performance. 

Here’s what you can track in ClickUp:

E. Flexible Views

It might take your team some time to get used to the Agile framework, and that’s ok! 

Even the mighty cheetah takes some time to reach its top speed.

Instead of your team adapting to a new Agile management tool, wouldn’t it be cool if the tool could adapt to your team’s working style?

That’s why ClickUp offers flexible views to organize and view your tasks, the way you like it:

  • Board View: organize your tasks on a virtual Scrum board
  • List View: arrange your tasks into a neat, handy checklist
  • Calendar View: lets you manage your busy schedule 
  • Gantt View: lets managers organize the project timeline 
  • Box View: see what tasks your team members are working on
  • Activity View: see what’s going on within your project
  • Workload View: ensure new team members don’t get overburdened with work

But wait, there’s more!

Your organization doesn’t have to be Agile to enjoy ClickUp’s features. 

ClickUp has something for everyone:

Conclusion 

Switching to Agile is a great way to ensure business success for years to come. 

But, it comes at a cost (literally!)

Your company has to invest a considerable amount of time, money, and resources to evolve into an Agile organization. 

But with the right tools, Agile transformation can feel less daunting than it actually is.

Whether it’s setting up an Agile pilot project or managing a Scrum team, Agile management tools like ClickUp can help you do it all!

Sign up for ClickUp today, and let your team’s productivity take to the skies!

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