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Are you Agile?

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What does it mean to implement business transformation and enterprise change in an agile environment?

It requires total integration among program, development and enterprise change teams.  It means that enterprise change deliverables will be just-in-time and fit-for-purpose.  It necessitates rapid improvisation in enterprise change approach and tactics.

According to HBR (May 2016), agile innovation methods have increased success rates in software development, improved quality and speed to market and boosted the motivation and productivity of IT teams.  But, does completing implementations faster and using innovative techniques really help people adopt change and improve quality??

Maybe.

The good news:  agile focuses on people interactions and quick wins over methodologies and processes.  So does organizational transformation and enterprise change!

More good news:  agile moves quickly from requirements à testing à deployment, ensuring faster, less costly and more iterative implementation.  This step-by-step process brings the stakeholders along on the adoption journey.  With early wins and pilot implementations, the business can identify approve implementations with each release. 

Even better news:  agile adapts to changing business conditions and allows for flexibility in project planning. 

Together, enterprise change, the business and implementation teams ensure realization of business benefits with less opportunity for a post-implementation 'gotcha' of misaligned expectations

So, how do classically trained practitioners deliver enterprise change in an agile environment?  You still deliver: 

·         change evaluation and definition,

·         change strategy and plan,

·         executing change program

·         measuring benefits and results and, finally,

·         transitioning to business-as-usual. 

How does all this get done in an agile implementation?  Work longer hours?  Add more staff?  Deliver a less thorough effort?

The answers lie in the strengths of agile:  integrating Enterprise change into the IT development and business review cycles.  By getting everyone on the same team and on the same agenda, the agile implementation brings stakeholders along on the implementation journey, thereby increasing adoption and minimizing post-launch disconnects.

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In a practical application, my high-tech client chose Agile methodology for a transition to CRM Dynamics.  The pilot implementation was the first time this client had ever used Agile and was, in reality, a combination of Agile and Waterfall approaches.  Gathering business requirements used agile techniques, but SDLC was used for implementation (sprints) and feedback loops (testing).  Change Management was engaged late in the pilot launch cycle and, as a result, didn't proactively plan nor engage with business or development teams.  The pilot launch was successful, but only through heroic efforts from the business and engineering teams.

For subsequent implementations, the engineering, business and change management teams were proactively engaged.  This enabled iterative cooperation and partnership throughout the development sprints.  The stakeholder business teams were better informed of the development cycle results, understood the transition requirements and were able to proactively prepare for training and user adoption.  This resulted in a smoother launch, better adoption and less expectation disillusionment post-launch.

Agile doesn't mean skimping on Enterprise Change methodology or using a larger team or working an inordinate number of hours.  It does mean, close partnership and collaboration and integration between all stakeholders to ensure everyone understands the objectives, is aligned on expected results and has 'skin in the game' for implementation and success.  This is our wheelhouse, what we do, the strength and strong suit of Enterprise Change.

Comments

Excellent blog post - thanks for the same! In the Salesforce delivery space, Agile (pure or hybrid) is the typical choice of our clients. The points mentioned by you are very relevant to those projects. More often than not, the necessity of effective change management is overlooked. You may want to publish a follow-up post to indicate how our clients can determine if they have adequately acknowledged the need for Enterprise Change planning prior to the start of the Agile projects.

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