How to succeed with enterprise agility

Businesses around the world are looking for better ways of managing changing priorities, faster time to market, better delivery predictability and more frequent releases.

Endava, which has been providing agile, digital and automation solutions to some of the world’s leading finance, insurance, telecommunications, media, technology and retail companies for the last 16 years, knows that this is not just about software development teams. It’s across the entire idea-to-production cycle, where business, technology and operations are collaborating and defining success based on one common language: value delivered to end-users.

Having first emerged around two decades ago, agile is no longer the new kid on the block. It has become a mainstream global movement adopted by organisations of all sizes across all industries. This year’s Annual State of Agile Report shows that a remarkable 90 per cent of those asked have engaged some form of agile management.

As encouraging as this sounds, research also reveals that 20 per cent are very new to the idea and 60 per cent have not yet reached maturity. In many cases this involves using only some agile techniques and practices or experimenting with agile in small parts of their organisation.

“We see agile adoption proving to be challenging especially in large organisations,” says George Anghelache, head of agile transformation at Endava.

A successful agile implementation will involve changing the delivery culture to focus beyond the agile processes, to change people and how they embody agile principles and values

Among the most common challenges Endava encounters is a company ethos in large organisations that is at odds with core agile values. “A successful agile implementation will involve changing the delivery culture to focus beyond the agile processes, to change people and how they embody agile principles and values,” explains Mr Anghelache.

In other cases agile implementations fall short because they’re focused too much on development teams. An optimal implementation needs to look at the entire idea-to-production cycle, introduce agile collaboration techniques across all departments, such as business, technology, operations, finance, human resources, sales and marketing, and in the process must assist with changing the governing model for all these groups.

Endava sees a lot of implementation efforts that over emphasise external training and coaching methods. This often results in poor adoption rates as people and leaders in that organisation feel it’s “being done to them”, and they cannot bring their own positive experiences and agile strengths to bear on the process. Endava, for instance, creates a joint group of agile champions, drawn from the client and its agile practitioners, to drive the agile implementation from within, ensuring significantly increased adoption rates.

A balance of people, process and technology drives success with agility, Endava has found. True enterprise agility requires a change in the culture of the organisation, rather than simply adopting a new agile process.

The focus should be on people times process, an overarching agile approach that ensures collaboration, a clear decision flow and provides repeatability. Endava argues that it’s brought to life by people who truly embody the agile pillars of transparency through short feedback cycles and constant adaptation to foster improvement and innovation.

IT development organisations also need to ensure that their core engineering practices are suitable for faster paced delivery, requiring multi-skilled teams who can master techniques such as continuous integration, continuous delivery and devops, Endava has found.

All this needs to be possible at scale and with teams distributed across geographical locations. “Our approach to distributed agile development includes effective engineering techniques based on continuous delivery, devops and a solid tooling foundation, team-level agile practices supported by training and coaching, and a robust enterprise scaling framework to allow effective application when hundreds of people are involved in a project,” explains Mr Anghelache. “This is the key to truly successful agility.”

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Endava is a privately owned, global technology company, which thanks to its digital evolution, agile transformation and automation solutions has enabled clients to be more engaging, responsive and efficient. It has more than 4,000 employees located in offices in North America and Western Europe, and delivery centres in Colombia, Moldova, Romania, Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria.