Sharpening the Spearhead of an Enterprise Agile Transformation

BrandPost By Dharmesh Kumar
Apr 09, 2020
Agile DevelopmentIT Leadership

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Credit: Melpomenem/istock

Is your enterprise truly agile? From enterprise customers across the globe we often hear and observe indications of a common dilemma and sometimes contradiction, expressed in statements like, “Absolutely, we are agile. … My unit is agile. … This team is ahead and delivering agile. …” quickly followed with a “BUT” statement, which most commonly draws attention to having not fully realized the vision around agile adoption across the enterprise. This also signals that these entities have likely not realized the business agility that is conferred with an agile transformation. This article seeks to help clear the concepts and provide helpful guidelines toward realizing a successful enterprise agility transformation.

This topic may be broadly categorized into different aspects across three critical stages in your organization’s journey toward being a truly agile enterprise:

Stage #1: The Awakening

There are multiple facets to consider when deciding to move your enterprise toward agile transformation. The initial motivation and starting point for this objective may be many factors or thoughts such as:

  • Other large enterprises are well ahead of the game and we should catch up.
  • Companies are automating, have robots, chatbots, algorithms, and machine learning – and our operations are primarily manual.
  • The competition has adopted cloud and reduced operational cost by x%.
  • Our business solutions teams are always coming up with innovative ideas and associated costs, which we struggle to prioritize and implement.
  • I read an interesting technology article and feel the need to start somewhere, do something, be there before my company misses out!

If any or all of the above sound like drivers for your consideration for introducing a new way of working, then you are heading in the right direction. However, any major organization change such as a switch to agile must bear long-range vision and tangible business outcomes as the central force supporting adoption. Business units and their supporting functions must be the primary foundational adopters and must be made fully aware of the contours and dimensions of the journey ahead. Transformational dynamics should be factored into this initial thought stage for later consideration toward full alignment when things inevitably go off-track or drift from plan.

Expert Advice: Embrace risk assessment and business continuity planning during the initial stages – the journey ahead may often require leveraging such plans, making this much more than a simple planning exercise.

This initial stage will be the most deterministic phase toward achieving full buy-in for a large transformation and overall program success going forward. A highly structured and intentional approach along with thought leadership is a mandate here, including engagement of industry experts to captain “the awakening” specifically for your enterprise and needs. A core transformational team consisting of enterprise change agents should be formed and empowered for the following steps:

  • Determine: Begin by gathering inputs across the breadth of your organization, along with performing deep dives on identified focal points and emphasized areas of your enterprise business lines. The determination also needs to consider psychological factors and key transformational attributes such as cultural and procedural adoption resistance (a debt which is empirical for legacy establishments) and future adaptations – where resistance to change is relatively low and acceptance of risk toward innovation is high.
  • Assess: The data collected across your organization is churned into “actionable intelligence.” Look out for patterns that are important toward your organizational goals and transformational needs. The foundational ability to effect agility in your organization is reliant upon this assessment.
  • Manage and Mandate: The methodologies and frameworks to successfully enable agile will be developed in this step, and necessary organizational change management and key stakeholder management (internal and external) must be established. The core team designs a governance framework to mandate protocols and standard operating procedures that also blends the agile principles into your program.
  • Zeal on the Yardstick (measurement) check: There is a constant need to gauge the effectiveness of planning and prerequisites prior to initiating the transformation. The core team is accountable to drive this measurement, collect and report metrics, and of course retrospect and reconcile various design parameters before the kickoff of implementation. A direct comparison of realistic and optimistic curves is what would indicate the zeal check in your transformation metrics and planning.

Full organizational alignment and buy-in across various stakeholders and organizational units occurs during this stage, setting the foundational cornerstone for a successful transformational journey.

Stage #2: The Cruising (Implementation)

Fantastic! You’ve got the adrenaline boost, a determined and optimistic outlook, and organization alignment for the transformation to proceed. There will be much smaller-scale planning to do, messaging and flyers to create, hectic schedules, coaching sessions, internal and external research, and much more during one of the largest and most critical undertakings possible for your organization. This is the key stage for execution of the blueprinted plans and ultimately the stage where the maximum amount of work will be done. During implementation, you’ll likely experience the roughest waters whilst in full-throttle execution mode, and there are identified key stages and critical aspects of the “Cruising” stage where you may make significant gains by sharpening the spearhead: 

  • Kick-off and Propagation: The vision, business goals, determined objectives, and Stage #1 protocols will be fully propagated to organizational bodies. The key strategies for this propagation will be relative to the magnitude of transformation and timelines, the approach (pilot vs. big bang) and methodologies, the anticipated disruptiveness, cultural capacity for change, etc.
  • Amalgamation of IT, Ops and Business: This is a key stage during the transformation that will typically create the most friction and open options in multiple directions – creating opportunity for disruption or confusion. Build a closed circuit of “entity influencers” pertaining to respective functions which they currently carry out (e.g. enterprise architecture, business owners, operations heads, etc.). Tie these closed-circuit leads with the core transformation team to imbibe the transformational consistency and continually reinforce this consistency in messaging and application.

Expert Advice: The core change ownership team along with change advisory leadership and governance bodies should trust and actively promote comprehensive roles and accountability matrices as operative guardrails for smooth sailing.

  • Tools ecosystem – enabling traceability and transparency: Last, but not least, your enterprise will vitally need a comprehensive ecosystem of tools, technology, and processes that are tightly coupled and enable the required transparency throughout this journey – systematically! The optimal option will be an integrated platform that provides a top-to-bottom, role-contextual view pertaining to your function (enterprise, portfolio, program visibility) plus execution capabilities, data, work boards, end-to-end traceability, reports and analytics, and much more, for detailed information whenever needed across all requirements.

Expert Advice: The ecosystem to support end-to-end comprehensive functions (that is integrated and tightly coupled) may need to be tailored for your organizational needs. Integrated platform solutions like TCS MasterCraft DevPlus® will provide time, money, and effort savings before, during, and following your enterprise agile transformational journey. 

  • Execution: Phase in which the transition from plan informed by all prior steps moves to successful delivery of the agile transformation.

Expert Advice: The transformational objectives set herewith should serve as a comprehensive guideline for the program deliveries and be continuously validated by the enterprise technology platform throughout the software development life cycle.

Stage #3: The Agile Horizon and Beyond

After all is said and done in the prior stages, you will retrospect the organizational agile maturity score and agility debt and optimize your forward-looking agility measures. This is a ‘“journey” and your enterprise should embrace the core fundamental principles aligned to your organizations’ transformation at each stage while also welcoming and guiding new initiatives with this framework.

With a newly implemented, strongly agile foundation and an enterprise agile mindset, you may transform and optimize core functions to operate lean and with business agility across your new agile enterprise, enabling customer-responsive rapid innovation to drive your business results.

Contact the TCS MasterCraft team today for an awakening conversation around TCS MasterCraft DevPlus for your organization.