Enterprise Agility

Enterprise agility helps organizations to grab the opportunities and avoid the threats in highly dynamic business environments. In other words, the agile teams within agile organizations will be able to adapt to changing requirements and deliver fast, faster than the competition. Agile practices were started as a best practice within software development and has now become an organization wide approach to deal with dynamically changing business environment where nimble players are creating blue ocean opportunities at the expense of the traditional business models. Enterprise agility have helped organizations from financial sectors, telecom, mining, oil and gas, health care and pharmaceuticals, public sector to achieve;

  • 10 to 30 points improvement in customer satisfaction
  • 20 to 30 points improvement in employee engagement
  • 30 to 50% improvement in operational performance with respect to speed, target achievement and predictability
  • 20 to 30% improvement in financial performance

Even if the benefits are high, changing the traditional mindset to agile mindset is a continuous process. It is a journey. Like every other journey, without a map it becomes difficult to reach the destination on time. The enterprise agility maturity model provides a clear road map for enhancing enterprise agility.

Enterprise Agility Maturity Model

Enterprise Agility Maturity model provides a staged approach to improve the agility of the organization as a whole or just the verticals within the organization.

In the agile journey, all organizations starts from level#0 and matures into level#5 over a period of time. The duration it takes to traverse from level#0 to level#5 depends on the leadership, organizational culture and the appetite to change for the better. At level#0 there is zero agility. At level#1, teams have just started following some agile practices on their own. By the time the teams reach level#2, the processes are defined and practices at a superficial level. By the time the teams reaches level#3, they have defined processes followed in a very disciplined manner which provides predictability. At level#4, the teams feel the need for automation especially for the build, deployment and QA. Levels#3 and 4 provides the foundation for continuous improvement based on quantitative data and the project teams and the portfolio management efforts are fully integrated providing strategic advantage to the organization. At level5, the organization will have the capability to dynamically change the portfolios and the project teams will be able to support them easily. Now, let us visit each of these stages, and understand the actions required to move them to the next level.

Maturity levels explained

Level#0 – Zero Agility
Characteristics of level#0
  • At this stage, organizations will have either very rigid processes if it is a very traditional organization, resulting in zero agility
  • If it is a startup, there will not be any defined processes at all
  • Project teams will be using very diverse tools
  • Level#1 – Partially agile
Level#1 – Partially agile
Characteristics of level#1
  • Someone enthusiastic about agility has started experimenting with agility in some projects
  • Bottom up initiative
  • No organizational sponsorship or commitment
  • Some projects are following some of the agile practices
  • There is no common vocabulary and tools
  • Nothing is measured in quantifiable terms (no empiricism)
  • Teams still work with the traditional command and control mindset
  • Organization understands the need to be agile
Steps required to move to level#2 – Defined
1. Agile vision definition and communication

Why should we become more agile?. What is the need for agility?. Having a common challenge (risk or opportunity) out there is the best way to motivate the employees to embrace agility. Playing together to win is the essence good team performance. The agile vision of the organization must be articulated and communicated continuously and consistently to the entire organization by the senior management. Create, communicate, document, display., demonstrate the vision continuously. Do not take this lightly because proper communication or lack of it can either make or break the agile initiative.

2. Ownership definition and empowerment

Who will own the agile initiative at the organizational level?. A steering committee comprising of senior executives representing the various functions, who have the conviction to persuade others about the need for agility must be part of this steering committee. Improving agility within their functions must be one of their key responsibilities.

3. Agile awareness programs for the senior and middle level management

Do not assume that everybody is aware of true agility. Many have the fear of the unknown, when it comes to agility. The best way to to eliminate this fear is to introduce them to the agile way of working, so that they can experience the benefits. This will help them to drive it in their respective functions / teams.

4. Agile strategy development

After having established the agile vision and ownership, the next important step is to decide on the agile strategy. A good agile strategy will provide answers to the following questions;

  • Should we switch all projects to agile way of working?
  • Should we choose those functions which has high impact on customer satisfaction?
  • Can we follow a hybrid approach?. In this approach, all teams are introduced to the agile way of working and are encouraged to practice agility where as those high impact functions are transitioned into the agile way of working holistically as quickly as possible.
5. Agile ground rules and minimum viable processes definition
  • Define the minimum viable agile processes to be followed by projects
  • Define the ground rules
  • Train the trainers
  • Train the teams
Level#2 – Defined
Characteristics of level#2
  • Teams are trained on the minimum viable agile practices defined at the organization level
  • Still there is no standardization on tools
  • There is no empiricism
  • Poor predictability
  • Better visibility than level#1
Steps required to move to level#3
  • Standardization of monitoring and controlling tools
  • Estimation
  • Mentoring / coaching
Level#3 – Disciplined
Characteristics of level#3
  • Highly disciplined agile implementation
  • All defined agile practices are followed
  • High degree of predictability because of empiricism
  • Better project visibility (transparency) due to standardized set of tools
Steps required to move to level#4
  • Investment in test automation
  • Investment in build and deployment automation
Level#4 – Automated (applicable for I.T projects)
Characteristics of level#4 (Applicable for software development projects)
  • Automated build and test cycle
  • Build metrics gathered and analysed
  • Teams regularly meet to discuss integration problems and resolve them with automation
  • All environments managed effectively
  • Operations and delivery teams regularly collaborate to manage risks and reduce cycle time
  • Production rollbacks rare.
  • Defects found and fixed immediately
  • Automated unit and acceptance tests
  • Quality metrics and trends tracked
Level#5 – Optimized
Characteristics of level#5
  • Wider adoption in the organization
  • Ability to dynamically change project portfolios gives the flexibility to change business strategies very quickly.
  • Continuously improved

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