When is the right time for my company to go Agile?
Going agile may not be end goal for any company, agile may be only treated as an enabler to address business problems. If you see any of the following symptoms in your organization, consider going AGILE way, strictly with quantitative goals to accomplish.
Rapidly changing external business conditions:
The future of any organization is greatly influenced by its knowledge of social, economic and technical environment it operates. Moreover, the target market cultural shift towards globalization makes companies vulnerable to many challenges. It is important that companies must have to convert these challenges into opportunities to move forward; otherwise it poses a serious threat to their survival. So if your software products are highly competitor intensive and is continuously losing market share to your competitors products, something has to change in the way you produce those products. Added to this chaos, if your external business environment is changing at a faster pace where todays product road maps are redundant by next month, you should probably think of going “Agile” way of product development.
High time to market:
Time to market (TTM) is critical for any business in the current highly global competitive environment. Does you software development team frequently move the release dates? Are your customers frustrated by your development team’s inability to deliver on schedule? Do you see most of the time lost in communication between the teams, management and stakeholders? If your team’s software development cycle takes longer than that of your competitor, think of going AGILE. You never know, your competitor might be already in AGILE, because it was time that can make drastic difference to drive profits to the company.
Less Business value being generated
Business value is something which the information technology or the software product development team adds to the core company business it serves to the customers. Many organizations expect their software products to generate competitive edge in the market. Business value always varies with the company’s core business priorities and its product line. It could be organization transformation towards strategic initiatives or producing the finest operational excellence that is needed. Business value may also only be limited to what the customer want NOW, and not 6 months ago. Sometimes there is a business value in adapting to the new organizations processes and skills. If your company is not producing the business value that is needed, think AGILE way of working.
Low quality products produced.
Low quality may always be a pain to the company, since it generates lot of rework. Moreover, it damages the company reputation in the external market. In today’s software product development, more emphasis is given to the user experience and creating rich UI’s. Poor quality may affect the bottom-line of the company in several ways. It may affect the customer satisfaction, loyalty, sales and profitability. Most often in software product development, team perceive that it is OK to deliver the product increment with known defects, however this kind of perception really kills the good will of the customer in long run. If you see any of these kinds of issues repeating in your software development team, consider embracing AGILE. Agile preaches lot of good engineering practices, if implemented in your organization; it will help teams delivering better quality products.
Low customer satisfaction scores
Customer satisfaction score is one of the most crucial factors to drive product sales in any business. Customers may not be happy if the outcome of the product development is not as per their expectations. Few parameters which may impress customers are product usability, higher quality, delivering highest value functionality to the users more often and quickly and generating the economic value that matches the customer expectation. Dissatisfied customer often cease to use or purchase products or services without waiting for corrective action by the organization. Taking the feedback from the customer on a regular basis in the form or survey or user interviews is very important. If your customer satisfaction score started trending downwards, then you may have to buckle your seat belt and start looking at Agile way of product development.
High cost of responding to changing priorities
One of the most distressing things about in running a successful business is how you really deal with the changing business priorities. The priority list seems to change constantly and new work flows at an alarming rate. In addition, the priorities also grow at a rapid pace and mutate around every moment. In waterfall SDLC, the customer has to wait until the whole product fully developed to see something working. Any feedback or changes that need to be incorporated in the final product is too much of work and very costly resulting in most of functionality of the product redundant. If you notice similar frustration in your customer, try AGILE.
High turnover and low employee morale:
If your organization suffers from high employee turnover and low employee morale, it will have negative affect on the performance and productivity of the organization. Many researchers have in depth studied the root causes of these issues. The answers are not very simple and straight forward. Some negative factors that seem to have contributed to this situation are lack of transparency and openness in an organization, managers may be showing favoritism and creating unfair work environment, fear of manager retaliation, company sets the long terms goals to everyone and forgets about them or change them in middle, and management is not reachable to the employees or not open to take feedback. There are lot of costs that a company has to incur if they see high turnover and low morale. The costs related to rehiring, customer deliverables may be of poor quality, company loses of knowledge gained by experienced employees. If you had to encounter similar hell like situations in your organization, rethink about changing the way you work and deal with employees.
No room for continuous Improvement.
When your team is always in a firefighting mode, they hardly gets any time for realizing what went wrong in the past and take the corrective step. There may be several reasons which could be root cause for such a situation to arise. For example, the team was swamped with too much work, by the management and they hardly have any time to look back. The team might have inherited too much of technical debt, which they have to clean up upfront before they start the real product development. The team is often bothered by customer with too many changes resulting in lot of rework. The team hardly might have any time to focus on what they want to do, because they were often disturbed by managers to do the things their way. In case, if any of these items surface in your team, try going AGILE way, because it strongly embraces the continuous improvement framework.