As more large enterprises are adopting agile practices organization-wide, they face unique challenges when compared to smaller organizations or individual projects. While most agile approaches work well at the team level and even for small groups of teams, many of those same preferred practices just don’t work when scaled scaled to an entire organization. For example, with just one or a few agile teams, self- directing teams can organize how they want to solve problems, but when scaled to an entire organization, some level of consistency between teams is needed to manage the dependencies between them. Because of this, the teams can’t be fully self-directed. Additionally, distributed teams are a reality in global enterprises, but most agile approaches prefer co-location for face to face conversations. Business stakeholders aren’t usually part of the decision to adopt agile, and as such, are resistant to participate, or are not trained on how to work with teams operating in an agile environment. Executives sometimes mandate the organization-wide move to agile, leaving managers to implement a methodology they might not believe in or aren’t trained to support. PMOs love gated approval processes and are hesitant to give them up, but they are still needed as key stakeholders on projects. Also, in most global organizations, funding isn’t allocated to projects in an agile manner, which means executives are asking for guarantees on the dollar that agile just doesn’t support. These are all challenges we’ve seen at our customers when scaling agile practices and while we don’t have all the answers to these challenges, we do have suggestions for how we handled these situations at various times.
In this talk, we’ll (1) start by understanding the primary motivations for large global organizations to adopt agile practices followed by (2) an overview of different scaled approaches and their limitations when scaling and conclude with (3) the most common challenges our customers’ teams are up against, and suggestions to overcome those challenges.