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What are the 3 common challenges when scaling agile and how to overcome?

  • Even though there are challenges in scaling Agile for enterprises, it comes with several advantages as well. We have listed some of them here

 3 Common Challenges Faced When Scaling Agile
In many enterprises, Agile takes root in software development teams, striving to deliver more value to the customer at a faster pace. While this is a great step to start with, meaningful organizational change comes from scaling agile: Enabling teams across the organization to use Agile frameworks and techniques to transform the way work gets done and improve the products and services delivered to end-users. 

Agile is the most widespread project management methodology and approach implemented by businesses around the world. The problem begins to arise when you try to scale agile on a much larger enterprise. Even though there are challenges in scaling Agile for enterprises, it comes with several advantages as well. We are gonna list some of them below: 

  • Helps in boosting employee engagement 
  • Enhanced visibility throughout the enterprise 
  • Facilitate team planning
  • Improves capacity management 
  • Aligns processes with operations 

Still one of the biggest advantages of scaling Agile is that it links the strategic objectives to people who are responsible for acquiring those objectives. This promotes transparency, improves cross-team collaboration and coordination, provides a faster response time, and improves organizational agility. With a scalable approach, managers can easily manage the availability of resources and workload, the same as dedicated server hosting. This lets companies bring more value without trading off innovation and flexibility. Scaling Agile throughout the organization means bringing cross-functional teams together, making team planning much easier while offering visibility to everyone into deliverables. 

What does “scaling Agile” mean?

Scaling Agile is a process of translating already established methods, like Scrum and Kanban to a larger team. According to a Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), traditional Agile teams work best when there is a team of five to eleven members. As companies are focusing more on the small group because of the success they bring, they often want to replicate that kind of success for larger teams, organizations, or departments. This is where scaling agile works. 

Scaling agile however is not as easy as implementing traditional Agile principles to a larger team. The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University recognized eight attributes in total that should be considered while scaling Agile:

  • The size of the team 
  • Each use role 
  • Product owner role
  • Specialization of roles 
  • Iteration length
  • Release definition 
  • Batch size

Top 3 Challenges of scaling Agile

Implementing change in a small team is comparatively easier, but reshaping how an organization works and thinks is the challenge. Even the most advanced Agile software development teams forward enterprises have to go through roadblocks when they choose to scale agile. Here are three of the biggest challenges of scaling Agile that you might face and how you can overcome them. 

 

  • Cultural Shift

Agile is often seen as a culture or shared mindset, instead of a set of practices. When it comes to scaling agile, it has both advantages as well as disadvantages. The framework used to scale Agile is less significant than the shared mindset, which can be a bit difficult to create. 

According to Agile expert and author Steve Denning: "The elements of a culture fit together as a mutually reinforcing system and combine to prevent any attempt to change it. Single-fix changes at the team level may appear to make progress for a while, but eventually, the interlocking elements of the organizational culture take over and the change is inexorably drawn back into the existing organizational culture."

If a company fails to change its culture, it has more chances of failing at the agile transformation. It usually circles how organizations think, function, and respond in various scenarios. Business owners need to understand as well embrace the lean-agile approach, which focuses primarily on delivering value, guaranteeing flow, and bringing in continuous advancements. This translates to the fact that they should be ready to fail quickly and learn from those mistakes. Additionally, agile leaders should get ready to face and challenge the status quo. To do that, they might even have to make changes in their management style. If their management style is a bit authoritative, they will have to work with a servant leadership approach. You will have to trust your team to accomplish the goals and encourage them instead of controlling their every tiny move. 

 

  • Change in a work management 

The cultural shift needed to scale Agile aligns the companies to the principles that team members want to do their best work and increase customer value.  To convert those principles into reality, businesses need to change their work management methods to allow value to flow.

Conventional work and project management methods begin with a fixed scope and evaluate the time and resources (manpower) required to accomplish that scope. The whole idea is that by specifying requirements in advance, companies can diminish risks and boost success. The Lean-Agile model works oppositely and flips that pattern. This way, time and resources become fixed through a conventional iteration window, and teams of people while making the scope more fluid, which became possible with constant learning and change. Teams usually experiment and quickly get feedback to revise the scope accordingly so that companies can adapt agilely.

We are going to list down a few ways the businesses can adapt to transform their work management approach :

  • Make changes in the team structure to let in active collaboration and accelerate experimentation 
  • Modify budgeting practices from project-driven to value-driven 
  • Shift from top-down and adapt to a more horizontal communication style
  • Encourage knowledge and learning culture throughout the company 
  • Move your command and control management style towards a more open management style

 

  • Evolution in technology 

If your company is looking to scale agile, you should have concentrated on the technology stack. In some instances, companies might have to extend or even replace their technology solutions to overcome the challenges of scaling Agile well enough.  Avoid the technology silos in the industry as they are the biggest ambushes of scaling agile.  If we put financials, capacity planning, and corporate objectives in one set of tools, then the delivery of work is tracked in entirely different tools, delivery teams are hence disconnected from strategic goals. You just have to make sure that the technology and tools you are using aid and align at a tactical level. Without the proper technical solution, It is impossible to scale agile correctly. 

What are the technology tools that are used to facilitate scaling Agile?  It depends partly on the organization’s Agile maturity. If your company already sustains Agile teams, for them scaling Agile may translate to implementing a solution that can tie them for better transparency and flow. Other companies on the other hand may need something more robust that can go beyond teams’ and teams of teams’ visibility to draw Agile work to a better portfolio. Find tools that allow information and collaboration to sail in both directions, laying down strategic plans for the agile teams and rolling work, influence, and financial assistance up to strategic objectives. 

Benefits of Scaling Agile

While there are challenges of scaling Agile that involve cultural, management, and technology shifts, the benefits of it overshadow the challenges. Scaling Agile across the organization brings in so many benefits both substantial and insubstantial.   Right from the faster market to higher customer satisfaction to enhanced ROI to attracting top talent, scaling Agile can transform how your enterprise functions.

  1. Aligns Strategy and work 

Scaling Agile links the business’s top-level goals with the team members who are responsible for executing them. More clear alignment creates multiple downstream effects, that include fostering transparency, facilitating cross-team coordination, allowing faster response times,  and growing agility in case the priorities change or the market shifts. Additionally, scaling Agile stresses creating Agile Release Trains (ARTs). This guarantees that not only are teams aligned to goals but all the team members in the organization are focused on creating value for customers. 

  1. Encourage teams of teams planning 

Scaling Agile across the organization involves bringing people from multiple functions and divisions together under the same roof.  This may arise across the entire organization at an end-to-end value chain or within departments, such as Dev and Ops, but mostly need better alignment and understanding. 

Scaling Agile frameworks overcome this with prescribed quarterly planning events helps in bringing cross-functional teams together to create plans that deliver against corporate objectives, stress possible dependencies, and pinpoint risks. These teams of “teams of teams” planning events play the main role in scaling Agile by providing clear visibility into quarterly deliverables to everyone in the company.  

  1. Enhance Capacity management

With the help of the scaled Agile approach, capacity management (stabilizing availability and workload) is aligned to ARTs and reassessed frequently and most of the time every quarter. This technique maintains the focus on creating values while allowing room for flexibility and change, entrusting leadership to recollect and rebalance steadily with minimal disturbance to organizational flow. The management team takes advantage of constant, stable teams with historical metrics around delivery, so they can come up with an informed decision on who can take on how much work. 

  1. Allow enterprise-wide visibility

You don’t just get visibility from scheduling events. Scaling Agile allows enterprise-wide transparency by combining and envisioning work from every team. As a result, leaders and managers get a larger vision of potential bottlenecks to make informed decisions to assign work properly.

Bring the Benefits of Agile Across the organization

Scaling Agile doesn’t just expand Agile from software development to the rest of the company, it expands the influence as well. We anticipate that implementing a new Agile framework will instantly start showing the results. But it doesn't work like that, these methods are easier said than done. Transforming one individual can be done easily but aiming to enhance the whole organization is a whole other deal. This doesn’t mean that you have to word too much about it. Large companies have been through a lot and everyone feels the same, however, it takes a significant amount of time, patience, and consistency to accomplish it. It does come with challenges but with help of the right company, approach and technology it can be transformational for your business. 

Evon Technology is one of those offshore software development companies that has assisted in implementing the Scaled Agile development process and took care of scaling Agile challenges. If you are out to transition to agile and require a software development company in India that has previously worked with other businesses and helped them transition to Agile. Then you have come to the right place, contact us today or drop an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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