Recently, I read a great blog on Hackernoon¹ that articulates beautifully the frequently-expressed moan that agile doesn’t work, that it’s not a silver bullet. Enabling organisations to confidently and successfully adopt agile working is important to us at Kainos, and, while we recognise it can be challenging for some, any organisation can benefit from agile. It’s true that agile has indeed become an industry, complete with jargon, obfuscation, over-complication, unnecessary differentiation and a good portion of snake-oil. Lots of people seem to “Do Agile”. However, many customers I have spoken to don’t yet feel confident adopting agile working, never mind using it successfully. And sometimes, the more experts they see, the less confident they become…
It is our experience that any organisation, however big or small, can adopt agile and reap the benefits. Time and time again, the best companies demonstrate that agile working delivers digital services that customers prefer to use. Why? Because the best way to truly understand user needs is to deliver a product or service to the users, listen to their feedback, and immediately implement the improvements required by them. And the only way to deliver early, and frequently implement changes while maintaining quality, is using agile. “Be agile” as opposed to “do agile”. Thanks to the uniquely flexible nature of software engineering, this is possible and achievable. Unlike building bridges or tower blocks, well-engineered software is able to be changed: frequently, significantly and safely.
But to reap the rewards, organisations need to embrace the change required. Here’s a quick test. How distant is your customer from the person that creates the service they use (often a software developer)? How many sign-offs are there, how many contract terms and policies, how much legacy infrastructure gets in the way? You need to reduce the distance because distance harms communication and stops people getting what they want. If your business people understand technology better, your technologists know what they’re delivering and why. The more that teams have autonomy and are trusted, the closer they can be to your users, be they customers, colleagues or partners.
There are three key steps that we at Kainos have found helpful for organisations that want to be confidently agile and are starting out. First, understand why agile is a good fit for addressing your business needs. Then, understand agile principles (and jargon) and how they relate to your business. Finally, work out a plan to introduce agile working to your organisation.
The good news is that this a path that a significant number of organisations have already benefited from following, so you’re not alone. We’d be delighted to guide you along a similar path. For more information, watch a recording of our recent webinar to find out how to delight your users by delivering better services with agile!