Moving to Agile – Critical business factors

Some years ago I implemented DSDM (then the preferred flavour of Agile) at Churchill Insurance. As far as the core processes were concerned, there was no great difficulty (admittedly we threw everything at it), but the business was a problem for two key reasons: empowerment and availability.

The nub of the empowerment issue was asking the business to allow their own representatives on the project enough authority to approve of what was going on on the spot (e.g., prototypes, changes, reprioritisations, etc.), without constantly referring to senor management. In short, they could not let go of the strings. As anyone who has worked in IT projects for any length of time will know, there is a ludicrous irony in this, because quite a lot of the problem with delivering successful IT projects of any kind is the business’s ambivalent attitude to ownership. In all too many companies, the business want to be in control of the project (i.e., able to make make-or-break calls about it) without taking responsibility for its delivery. The implicit question is always, do you prefer delivery to control?, and all too often the effective answer is ‘control’. This is as much a problem for Agile as it ever was for waterfall projects.

The second problem was getting the required effort from the business representatives to the project. These individuals were necessarily very experienced and valuable people (who else would you empower?) but that was precisely what made them hard to replace in their day jobs. So we needed them to spend about three days a week on the project, but they still needed five (usually very long) days for their BAU work. No surprise, then, that project work soon started the back seat to day job, the quality and speed of decision-making plummeted and the project started to look pretty wonky.

So although the business was keen on an Agile approach, they could not participate effectively. It was a long struggle – only partially successful – to deal with this problem.

By |2018-01-18T15:41:10+00:00Wednesday, May 19 2010|Categories: Agile, All, Business and IT, Capability, DSDM, Empowerment, Process and method, Resourcing, Risk, Stakeholders|0 Comments

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