Agile is a trend that the IT, enterprise, and PMO worlds have watched for years, so naturally it’s an area of focus for One2Team. Agile is a fundamental shift to the approach to technology and business itself. As more IT teams adopt the agile methodology, we see an understanding of the benefits spread across business units. In recent months, one topic seemed to be on everyone’s radar: the reconciliation between agile methodologies and value contribution.
Traditionally, projects were managed through waterfall methodologies, with a very clear structure and pre-established specifications. While this continues to work very well within industries that require a fixed, sequential process (i.e. construction and manufacturing), waterfall does not offer the flexibility and capacity for change that many modern-day companies require. Waterfall also requires accurate foresight to create a master plan, and it generally excludes end-user feedback from the development process as it delays testing until after the completion of the project.
Agile methodologies were developed as a response to these shortcomings. Agile focuses on adapting to change and promoting ongoing collaboration throughout a project, allowing stakeholders to pivot mid-way through a project and re-prioritize as they go. As a result, agile companies are more reactive to business changes, market needs, and competitors. They are also able to deliver more quickly, often in the form of what is known as a minimum viable product (MVP). Creating an MVP helps companies get something to market without wasting time putting together a comprehensive master-plan, and to get consumer feedback to then apply to future versions of the product. The trick is understanding what is minimum and what is viable!
Agile also allows companies to create smaller, more focused teams. In fact, a One2Team client (who chose to remain anonymous) went from having an IT department with four subgroups, each based on technology selection, to now having 17 smaller Agile teams within IT. This allows for increased collaboration, and for team members to become experts in their specific area of focus. With all this in mind, it comes as no surprise that, as of 2017, 97% of organizations practice agile development methods to some degree.
However, many companies face difficulties when switching over to agile. The absence of a clear project structure and expected results leads to a lack of commitment among project stakeholders. Instead of a means of getting to market faster, an MVP becomes a pretext to put in less effort and become complacent. Teams will promise to get an MVP ready in time, without putting any forethought into a timeline or plan for a final product. Without clear milestones and KPIs, teams also find themselves unable to quantify how their actions and projects contribute to the overall strategy of the company. This leaves us with one question: how do you reconcile agile with value contribution and strategic commitments?
With companies increasingly looking to incorporate benefit tracking within their agile frameworks, Gartner has introduced a concept known as “bimodal”, essentially blending waterfall and agile methodologies. Companies such as One2Team have developed unique data models that support this new bimodal framework, allowing for companies to identify their milestones, KPIs, and risks ahead of time, all while remaining agile (see above illustrations of agile and bimodal data models). In other words, bimodal data models combine the advantages of waterfall with those of agile to give you the best of both worlds.
Bimodal also allows agile methodologies to be implemented cross-functionally. Agile was originally developed for software development and can be utilized very efficiently within IT departments, but does not cater to all roles and departments across an organization. As such, while agile project management tools such as JIRA may be ideal for use solely within IT, cross-business platforms such as One2Team are more suitable for company-wide implementation of agile practices.