Agile Infusion

We asked the project management community: What steps help facilitate a transition to agile?

SMART STRATEGY

“Agile is not something you can copy and paste. You need to understand and identify the main needs of your organization, then have those who are most enthusiastic about agile be the evangelists for change. Start with a pilot project to get quick results, then measure and share the process and outcomes to spread the word and help build buy-in throughout the organization. Finally, create your own documentation for agile approaches so it can be used by other areas in the organization.”

—Maria Virtudes Briz, PMI-ACP, senior agile technology project manager, Telefónica Chile Movistar, Santiago, Chile

BUILDING BLOCKS

“I’ve seen the most success when the transition project team performed a root cause analysis [following a problem]. We found that the project management framework was just one of several factors hindering our ability to deliver on-time, within-scope projects. In addition to training the entire group on our selected scrum hybrid approach, we adopted a multipronged effort to change the group’s culture, to provide key personnel with general management training and to evaluate the skill sets of all employees. The big benefit here is that we acknowledged that agile wasn’t a panacea and that we had to make other changes to avoid repeating old mistakes.”

—Bryan Berthot, PMI-ACP, PMP, project manager, DirecTV,San Diego, California, USA

MODIFIED APPROACH

“When I was head of European release management at a major private bank in Switzerland, the process to make the bank lean and agile while keeping the same quality required us to adopt rigorous tollgate checks between the different stages of development, integration, acceptance and finally transition to production. All the administrative tasks without value-added were suppressed to ensure an efficient process. The release calendar also was modified to permit more frequent delivery—from three releases per year to monthly releases and even to weekly releases if the risk was judged low by the business sponsor.”

—Marc Burlereaux, PMI-RMP, PMP, PgMP, business unit manager, ITSS, Geneva, Switzerland

TEAM EFFORT

“The most important step for our organization was to build an agile transition team with leaders from all departments. Every leader was responsible for particular competencies needed to incorporate the agile approach. This is a system-thinking change: Not only did we have to break silos, but we had to re-create the whole product structure and interdisciplinary teams. We had to create a whole new definition of project completion in terms of product and quality ownership. There is no end to the agile journey.”

—Michal Raczka, PMI-ACP, PMP, IT strategy and project management vice director, mBank S.A., Warsaw, Poland

PRACTICE RUNS

“Unfamiliarity with agile is expected, so jumping in headfirst is not ideal. Personally, mock sprints—like planning a party—and instructional videos have been invaluable resources. Online videos can be rewatched, and mock sprints facilitate a team’s need to practice without impacting real-world deadlines. For instance, you give them an hour to complete their scrum and break it into 25-minute sprints and two five-minute standups. Then at the end of the sprint, you do a retrospective. This helps people get used to the process without having to apply it to an actual project that they’re working on.”

—Matthew Birken, PMI-ACP, president, Secret Passage Studios, New York, New York, USA

ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION

“During a human resource information system project, I started by introducing end-of-sprint product demos and inviting not only product owners and stakeholders but also representatives from different end-user groups. Attendees would then get a chance to experience a “working software” and were encouraged to deliver feedback in a way that made them sense they were genuinely involved in the creation of this product. By using agile, it was easier for the end users to see the end product, propose changes and see many of the changes in future iterations. The payoffs were remarkable. It increased user adoption due to better engagement. And it led to an end product that was more aligned to their expectations—one where they had been given a chance to participate in its evolution.”

—Noha Shaban, PMI-ACP, PMP, project manager, Value Driven Project Consultancy, Melbourne, Australia

Source: PM Network 04/2017 - BLUEPRINT FOR CHANGE

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