Over the past decade, agile methods have largely contributed to increasing teams’ performance. The success of agile at project level implicates that agile can improve the corporate performance as well. However, the burning question is that whether it is possible to make the whole organization agile?
To scale agile, we need to first have a closer look at agile itself.
According to PMI,” Organizations increasingly embrace agile as a technique for managing projects. A full 71 percent of organizations report using agile approaches for their projects sometimes, often, or always.”The reason for more organizations adopting agile is indicated by PWC as it states, “Agile projects are 28% more successful than traditional projects.” These statistics implicate that organizations are well aware of the benefits of agile methodology and they are putting it to good use while working on projects.
Purpose of creating agile teams
The agile teams came into existence to fuel creativity which in turn will help to improve products and services, processes, or business models. The main idea behind creating agile teams is to innovate and in such a way that there are visible and tangible benefits.
In agile methodology, the teams are small in size and are multidisciplinary. A complex problem is broken down into modules. The solutions are developed for each module. This is done with the help of rapid prototypes and feedbacks. These solutions are then integrated to form a whole to solve the problem.
This approach facilitates adapting to change. Inability to accommodate changes is a drawback in working with a detailed plan. In agile, more emphasis is laid on matrices such as profitability and growth rather than the actual outputs such as the number of products developed.
Agile gave organizations a way to cut through chain-of-command bureaucracies. The characteristics of a successful agile team are that each team member has more autonomy to make decisions and the team work closely with stakeholders. By letting go of the command centers, the overall process speeds up and it paves way for innovation. This also helps leaders to focus on the long-term vision.
This process works well in software development projects with a small number of teams working with agile. Can these benefits of agile approach be replicated at an organization-wide scale?
Scaling agile means that there are hundreds of agile teams working in different business units. There is no part of the business which is untouched by the agile approach. The idea to deploy agile teams throughout the organization may sound challenging but the fact of the matter is that various organizations are at this very moment going through the agile transformation.
Some examples of scaling agile:
Bosch, a leading global supplier of technology and services with more than 400,000 associates and operations in 60-plus countries, is going through an agile transformation. Bosch decided to stay relevant in a globalized economy by scaling agile.
The first step in scaling agile was to identify which business functions will continue with the traditional approach. The new business functions were chosen to be run with agile teams. This created a dual organization, one which is working on a traditional model and another one which runs on agile approach.
Bosch took a more prudent approach adopting agile instead of measuring the depth of water with both feet. It launched an initial wave of agile teams and then measured the value these teams created. It also monitored the challenges they faced while deploying agile on various fronts. This helps them to figure out what action steps to take next. The value created by increasing agility was evaluated with respect to the cost incurred in scaling agile. If the benefits of scaling agile were higher than the cost, they will continue to scale agile with more agile teams deployed. Otherwise, they decided to take corrective measures to increase the value created by agile teams.
Spotify is a digital music service provider company with over 20 million paying subscribers. They work with an interesting model while scaling agile. The enterprise-wide agile model consists of:
The smallest development team is called “Squad” which is a full stack team that comprises of a product developer, an iOS developer, and Android developer, QA, an Agile Coach, and a product owner. The leadership group for a Squad is comprised of the Product Owner, Chapter Leader, and Agile Coach.
b) Chapter lead
A person which oversees one to five squads is called “chapter lead”. A chapter lead is not the manager of the team but is a manager of a domain which spans across teams. The chapter lead facilitates in helping skills to be shared across squads.
A tribe is comprised of different squads working on a common goal. The ideal size for a tribe is 40 members. The tribe also has a leadership structure that comprises of Tech, Product, and Design, TPD for short.
A guild ensures that all the efforts of squads are in line with company-wide decisions. There are different guilds for the technical division as well as for photography division.
For the coordination between tribes, there is an alliance. An alliance includes leadership people such as VP of Ingenuity and the VP of Design.
This is the way Spotify manages to adopt agile on a company-wide scale.
Saab’s aeronautics division has created 100 agile teams operating across software, hardware, and fuselage for its $43 million Gripen fighter jet. There is a “teams of teams” approach which is being used to scale agile. There is daily team-of-teams stand-up followed by a 15-minute meeting of each agile team to resolve issues which were not resolved in the team-of-teams stand up.
The issues which require coordination are escalated to team-of-teams where leaders take further action. There is an executive action team which has a list of critical issues which it must resolve to keep progress on track. There is a three-week sprint in which project master plan is referred. This is to bridge the gaps between different units of the organization. The overall process resulted in Gripen, which is deemed as the most cost-effective military aircraft.
The common denominator amongst these organizations is that they have successfully scaled agile by keeping the right mix of traditional model and agile model for different business functions.
Scaling Agile |Business benefits
The readiness to change and adapt according to business environment is a trait innate to organizations with large-scale agile adoption. Agile at a scale not only makes a business more prepared for disruptions but it also leads to a rise in efficiency and productivity. There is a better collaboration amongst teams and a more responsiveness to customer needs. There is a significant improvement in organizational structure. This leads to not only better financial results but also a significant increase in customer loyalty and employee engagement.
Scaling Agile with ReQtest
It’s not only pre-requisite to have a well thought out strategy to scale agile in the organization but it is also imperative to have the right tools to scale agile.
ReQtest for agile teams
ReQtest is a tool which is built for agile teams. It is used by business analysts, test managers, product owners, developers and customers to as a platform for collaboration. There are various modules such as requirement management, test management, and bug tracking that are equipped to help in planning iterations more effectively.
There is an agile board that helps the team to handle tasks more effectively. There is a burndown chart that helps team members to stay updated on project progress. Read more on burndown chart for agile teams
There are multiple visual reports which can be populated by a different combination of the fields in the forms. Read more on agile reporting
ReQtest is built for distributed teams and a perfect tool for creating virtual agile teams. The tool can help in scaling agile as it gives users the capability to easily customize the forms to suit their needs. This tool can be used by the team across different business functions.
ReQtest can be used by product development teams to plan their iterations and releases while the business development function can use this tool for managing customer needs. The client-facing team can collaborate with the product development teams to develop a product which is more in line with customer’s business vision. ReQtest is already being used by agile teams for working closely with clients to build rapid prototypes and get instant feedback. ReQtest allows a seamless integration with JIRA. This further adds to capabilities of the tool in helping cross-functional teams.
You can set up multiple agile teams with the help of ReQtest throughout your organization.