Create A Success Case For Your Agile Transformation – Then Scale It

Agile principles and other success stories make agile seem like legacy organizations' best bet towards digitalization and innovation. However, with such fixed and inflexible structures and efficiency-driven processes to transform, each business needs to have its own success case before taking the leap into agile transformation. Here is how you can create this.

Agile pilots to build your success case

Agile offers increased productivity, valuable, early feedback and quick time-to-market, making it an attractive choice. An approach to work that is not brand new, but has yet to be widely adopted amongst legacy organizations. This is because of a heavily ingrained way of working – the waterfall way.

As a result, any kind of change is going to seem like a risk they may not be able to afford to take. Yet the majority of legacy organizations are certain of their need to embrace digitalization, and agile transformation is a proven way to achieve this. So we need a way of testing it out, a way to make a case for agile to prove its viability for each organization. We need to get agile right the first time around.

This is where agile pilots come in.

We often approach digitalization through agile transformation in the form of an initial pilot project if it’s a new concept for a client’s organization. It allows them to trial agile on a real project outside of their core business, so as not to disrupt business as usual.

This is often a four-step-process, and tailored to each client’s key challenges.

Step one

Market context

Here we work with clients to explore what we know about their customers, their own market as well as anything that’s influencing them from other industries. It’s worth noting that today, businesses need to also be monitoring previously unrelated industries to their own. More often than not, disruption and large shifts in expectations come from outside of their industries, not from within.

We explore where disruption is happening and how they compare to competitors. This helps to identify opportunities for the next step, as well as gaining a good understanding of where their strengths and weaknesses lie. It also becomes clear they need to explore new ways of working to speed up innovation to keep up with competitors and customers themselves. Very often, these businesses are lacking within digital readiness and offerings.

exploring research for innovation

Step two

Innovation opportunity

At this stage we are exploring opportunity areas for potential innovation. Drawing on the extensive research gathered in the first step, we can begin to ideate around which areas hold the most potential for our clients’ business. We focus on not only which opportunity will bring an increase in revenue for the organization, but which would be most valuable to customers.

Customer-value is a key indicator of sustainable success in today’s volatile markets. Therefore we always strive to instil a customer-centric mindset in the teams we work with.

At the end of this step, our client would have selected an opportunity area to pursue within this pilot project. Through workshops and brainstorm sessions, teams come to a united decision on a product or service idea to materialize, test and launch.

Explore the agile success case of A1

How we created a success case for agile product development together with A1 to promote a company-wide agile transformation, with digitalization being the key driver.

Step three

Agile pilot

This is the doing step. It’s where the agile sprints happen. The idea defined in step two is developed beyond a concept and into a minimal viable product through the process of agile sprints.

You can dive deeper into what an agile sprint is and how to successfully run sprints within your organization with this free illustrated guide.

Essentially this is the process of build, test, learn, repeat. An interdisciplinary team is formed, often outside of the core business. We refer to this team as the innovation engine, and the core business is the performance engine. This avoids any distraction, interference or general ‘rocking of the boat’ within the performance engine. It enables the agile team to focus solely on progressing quickly through the sprint cycles.

sprint team with scrum board

The team builds a minimal viable product (MVP), and iterates on it throughout each sprint. Ultimately, they achieve a final version of the product that provides the greatest value to customers in a much shorter space of time. They have used up fewer resources than the business would have otherwise spent on a product or service that had no tested assurance of customer value.

The agile team are able to pivot and reassess the product or service and its features throughout the process. This means it is easier to react to unforeseen changes and shifts in the market and customer expectations.

Rapid iteration is ideal for a journey towards digitalization. The company are able to test and release smaller digital releases at a much faster rate. These iterations, if not made at this early stage may have otherwise rendered a product out-dated and less valuable by the time it reached the market.

Step four

Scaled agile teams towards agile transformation

Once the agile project has come to an end, there is a product or service on the market and (hopefully) doing well. Now the business has a success case for agile as a way of working, it will be easier to scale it. This might mean simply forming more agile teams to tackle other ideas that were generated but not selected back in step two, and develop on them.

Maybe the agile teams are kept as a separate innovation engine – away from the core business. Projects can however be ramped up in terms of budget, commitment and efforts.

The next challenge at this point would be to ensure there is a clear channel of communication between the agile teams. A great strength of multiple agile teams is their combined learnings.

Agile pilots as a looking glass into your organization 

There are other benefits to gain from starting small with an agile pilot, as opposed to trying to integrate agile on a larger scale from the start. We have explored how it helps you build a success case for agile and build on learnings about your market and your customers. It also gives you valuable insight into the inner workings of your organization.

In other words this approach is an opportunity for organizations to turn into ‘learning companies’. Nathalie Doré, previous CEO of L’Atelier North America spoke about how traditional organizations need to adopt this always-learning-mindset because “The subject matter that we’re working with is changing, which is why staff ought to be following continuous learning through company programs.”

Change today is exponential, so companies need to find ways to keep up to avoid becoming irrelevant.

Each organization is unique. While we generalize legacies as traditionally working with a waterfall method, there can still be great differences between two of these businesses.

An agile pilot can help organizations to identify where their biggest challenges are – internally. It can bring to light the areas you may need to take greater care of when it comes to wider organizational change. As a result, any future changes or transformations can be approached with with informed change agents. You are already aware of potential hurdles and how best to communicate changes within specific teams.

Want to explore even more benefits of agile in business? Check out these insights.

Now see it in action

Explore the agile success case of A1

How we created a success case for agile product development together with A1 to promote a company-wide agile transformation, with digitalization being the key driver.

The New Normal.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a new global reality that arrived fast and unexpectly, resulting in the birth of completely unfamiliar business context. With the beginning of the new calendar and fiscal years, businesses have seen their plans for 2020 become obsolete over the course of a few weeks. Undoubtedly as part of immediate crisis management, business leaders are coping with today but also revising plans, projections and priorities for what many are calling the ‘New Normal’.