Agile: The key to unlocking your potential

In today’s fast-moving, globalised and progressively digitised world, any organisation that expects customers to wait years, or even months, for new products and services to meet their increasingly rigorous demands will no longer cut the mustard. In a social media-savvy age where customers expect their queries and concerns to be addressed within minutes, woe betide the company that fails to keep their eye on the ball.

As a result of such pressures, the average lifespan of a company in the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index has now fallen from 61 years in 1958 to just 18 today, according to Yale University’s Professor Richard Foster. But if this run rate is borne out, it means that by 2027 more than three quarters of the current S&P 500 will no longer be in business – that’s 375 companies. A sobering thought.

Key challenges for everyone these days include cutting costs, reducing time to market, increasing customer satisfaction, improving processes and motivating people.

There are four key approaches to cutting costs. These are doing without, working with less, doing things better or doing things differently.

While most organisations opt for one of the first two tactics, as they are generally easier to achieve, it is actually the last two that generate the real prize in the shape of innovation, major cost reductions and sustainable savings. But the big difficulty for many is simply how to go about it.

Increased customer satisfaction, in an era where there is so much sales and marketing noise at every level, becomes the true differentiator. This means not only being responsive to customer complaints if something goes wrong, but also building the right products and services quickly, efficiently and well in the first place to ensure they not just meet, but exceed expectations.

To do this right, it is about ensuring your business processes are optimised for peak performance, which involves focusing scarce resources where they are needed most to maximise a return on investment. This kind of well-organised approach will also reduce time to market.

Holy Grail of transformation

But core to all of this are your people – without them on side, valued, engaged and motivated, none of the above will be possible. Instead, you will see low productivity and high staff turnover, which is always expensive at the very least in terms of recruitment costs, time and effort, and getting people up to speed once they start.

That all important customer experience will also suffer if your employees are not sufficiently inspired to go the extra mile for customers. With staff engaged and empowered to try new approaches that real innovation can be embedded into the organisation.

So what is the answer, and how can you truly achieve the Holy Grail of digital and/or business transformation with minimum pain?

Dee Hock, founder and chief executive of credit card giant Visa, once said: “Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex intelligent behaviour. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple, stupid behaviour.” And the same principle holds true today.

Over recent years, a number of frameworks have appeared on the market with the aim of streamlining and simplifying processes. The aim is to enable teams to deliver the products and services that customers want in the least possible time. These frameworks include Scaled Agile®, Lean, Kanban and Scrum.

Implementing this kind of transformation is tricky if you are not familiar with it – it requires a cultural and mindset shift that can be difficult to introduce alone

One of the guiding principles of agile frameworks, in particular, is simplicity: the art of maximising the amount of work not done. This simplicity is about keeping processes as straightforward as possible and creating agile “feature teams” that comprise all the skills necessary to create small batches of valuable product functionality.

The ultimate nirvana, enabled by a collaborative DevOps approach to software development, quality assurance and IT operations, is then to provide value, continuously. So what it all adds up to is “complex intelligent behaviour” as well as a significant decrease in waste.

But implementing this kind of transformation is tricky if you are not familiar with it – it requires a cultural and mindset shift that can be difficult to introduce alone. That is where transformation services provider Radtac comes in.


Ensuring successful change

For nearly 20 years, Radtac has been using the most appropriate elements of a variety of agile frameworks to help clients in industries as diverse as financial services, gaming and leisure, and the public sector to cut costs and transform their underlying operations.

For instance, it recently partnered with Bristol City Council, which is now on track to make £64 million in annual savings from fiscal year 2016-17 by investing in new technology and consolidating 35 separate offices into two main hubs from which the council is now even generating revenue.

Radtac also works very closely with Hewlett Packard Enterprise when undertaking public-sector projects of all types to provide specialist, scalable development and delivery capabilities. Because a key consideration here is that successful transformation ultimately depends on the people involved.

This means the company only uses the most highly skilled consultants, certified delivery professionals and hugely experienced software development professionals. Specialist in-house skills can also be developed by means of the firm’s vast portfolio of certified professional agile training courses. In fact, Radtac has trained more than 1,300 companies in the last five years.

But Radtac has also developed its own engagement model, widely known as the Radtac Key. This is based on 20 years of practical experience at the coalface and is an adaptable, dynamic four-stage approach for enabling agile-based change, whether you are employing it for the first time, expanding the number of your initiatives or going for full-scale business transformation.

The Radtac Key’s vital precepts have just been revealed in a groundbreaking book entitled Agile Foundations: Principles, Practices and Frameworks. The official textbook for the BCS [Chartered Institute for IT] Foundation Certificate in Agile, it is an independent, unbiased guide to the wide range of techniques and frameworks currently on the market.

Unsurprisingly then, Radtac is also one of the few consultancies in the world to be a gold partner with Scaled Agile Inc. This means it has all the necessary experience to help you roll out agile working practices across the enterprise using the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®).

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SAFe® is a proven, successful method for implementing agile across the enterprise. It provides productivity increases of between 20 and 50 per cent, quality improvement of 50 per cent plus and project delivery times that are between 30 and 75 per cent faster.

But while frameworks matter, it is also important to note that the real key to successful change actually lies within your own people and teams. Everything that Radtac does is focused more on people than processes, which is why it always puts individuals and outcomes first.

The ultimate goal is rapid, evolutionary change at a sustainable pace. So the company gives you ongoing guidance and the tools to help effect transformation at your own rate – while also supporting you in standing on your own two feet.