The list of IT frustrations is well understood by many, but few know what can be done about them. Prior attempts to solve these systemic problems focused on tighter controls and better tools, yet these approaches have proved ineffective. This is where Agile and previous attempts at fostering business/IT innovation diverge.
Agile was designed to focus teams on human collaboration and execution values that guide every day choices and behaviors regarding business and engineering planning, collaboration, and delivery practices. By addressing systemic IT problems with an Agile operating model, the benefits most sought by the business (speed, productivity, flexibility, quality, cost, etc.) are produced as a natural byproduct of a well-designed and implemented Agile lifecycle.
Rapid learning, collaboration, and execution require new ways of working that require a reset on many previously established IT norms. In general, the core requirements and attributes of successful Agile Teams and Lifecycles include:
- Team culture, practices, and tools that encourage continuous collaboration, problem solving, and learning
- Planning and development practices that encourage decisions that lead to doing the right thing over following the original plan
- Committed engagement and involvement by business sponsors qualified to make distinctions between must have vs. nice to have
- Elimination of all possible team tasks that can otherwise be automated
- The thoughtful selection and use of tools that reduce the effort required by team members to successfully design, build, and deploy production quality software within a one- or two- week time-box
- Communication tools that promote near real-time project visibility to all stakeholders
- Aggressive elimination of IT red tape common among many enterprise project management governance models
The benefits of successful Agile execution rely on more than clever engineering tricks. Core to Agile success is the way in which collaboration and learning are intentionally designed into the project lifecycle. This intentional focus on collaborative learning by way of rapid, incremental delivery is a key reason why Agile teams enjoy significant improvements to delivery success. Rather than delivering what the business asks for, the Agile lifecycle ensures a rapid learning feedback loop that results instead in building what the business truly needs.