Agile Enough: Going Agile When Everyone Else Isn’t

April 16, 2019

Many challenges and solutions exist for applying Agile software methodologies within an organization that has a traditional product release philosophy. This is particularly prevalent in B2B businesses where the customer has a large influence over the overall organization direction and has leverage to demand specific features within certain timelines on real-world experiences.

Problem:

Forced delivery deadlines are quite common in small to medium businesses that are focused on growing revenues. These organizations tend to be sales-driven and focus heavily on customer retention or new customer acquisition. Typically, in these situations, executive management is not interested in the impact on the overall product strategy but focused primarily on winning the sale. This is not a bad thing, but it is a real thing that engineering leaders face; and, it causes quite a challenge when attempting to establish or maintain an Agile culture within the organization.

Since time-bound deliveries require up-front planning and estimation, a key tenant of Agile gets stressed. This is the general idea that “planning for what you don’t know” should be avoided. Another theme in Agile that doesn’t work well in these environments it the idea that you get what you get when it is ready.

This implies that you can’t really do Scrum or Kanban in its basic form in these situations because there is no room for close enough. Most of the literature on these methodologies treat this real-world problem as an exception to good Agile practice, but for many of us, it is the reality.

Study Design

This session focuses on an experience report based on personal experience of transitioning teams from structured processes to more agile processes in these traditional environments. Additionally, an extensive list of completed projects has been reviewed to determine how often this problem occurs as a way of validating the problem statement.

Conclusion

The session offers insight and tools that can be applied within an engineering leader’s environment to increase the level of agility while still maintaining a traditional product roadmap. The goal in these situations is to be “Agile Enough!”.

Location: Online