Agility in practice

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Is it important to combine agility with your organizations current IT and operating landscape? Let’s find out…

According to the 12th annual state of agile survey conducted in 2018, 49% of the respondents chose better business and IT alignment as the main reason for implementing agile. While 65% of them said business IT alignment, is one of the main benefits of applying agile. Agility is now a central requirement for many organizations. However, it is important to combine agility with your organizations current IT and operating landscape and to figure out which agile innovation/solution should be used when, and how.

Now agile methodologies can be traced back to 1930’s when a certain plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles were applied for the improvement of products and processes[1] by physicist and statistician Walter Shewhart at Bell labs. So agile methodologies started outside of software development and they have the ability to expand far beyond IT.

As an organization you need to understand that at its core, the term “agile” refers to an iterative, incremental method of managing design and building activities with an aim of carrying out & developing new products in a highly flexible and interactive manner.

For this to be successfully implemented you need to realize that there are different agile solutions covering 3 main dimensions as shown in the image below:

 

Agile methodologies and digital future

There are 4 main reasons as to why organizations are keen on deploying a more agile approach – all of these, support and enable the journey to digital.

Speed – Speed to market, or better maximized agility through a constant and fully integrated deployment capability is one key aspect here. Moving from a release cycle from every quarter to deploying changes on a minute by minute basis is real aspiration for many. For many customers this is a massive leap, for some this is reality.

Increased qualityPuppet Labs’ survey suggested that high-performing organizations are still deploying code 30 times more frequently, with 50 percent fewer failures than their lower-performing counterparts. Increased quality is one on the key benefits of deploying a DevOps capability. It will however only increase quality if the organization has reached a certain level of maturity.

Improved innovation – Running less outages, deploying code with increased quality will lead to more time spend thinking about further improvements or new ways of working. It will enable the organization to drive more value, rather than having to dedicate time fixing issues caused by changes deployed. Also, being better connected (the business and the IT) will increase the iteration cycles and will allow for increased innovation cycles as well.

Reduced outages – This is a big area of value – as outlined above, IT Process Institute’s Visible Ops Handbook reports that “80% of unplanned outages are due to ill-planned changes made by administrators (operations staff) or developers.” The Enterprise Management Association reports that 60% of availability and performance errors are the result of misconfigurations.

The agile implementation challenges

But, there is an issue; many organizations struggle to deploy “agility” across the estate. There are 9 main reasons:

  1. Focusing on technology only i.e. seeing agility being the same as DevOps
  2. Ignoring organizational & governance change
  3. Not having an agile commercial model
  4. Getting obsessed with tools and methods only
  5. Lack of executive sponsorship
  6. Underestimating cultural issues and challenges
  7. Lack of understanding of the starting point
  8. Ignoring Brown Field/Traditional (your existing landscapes)
  9. Setting up digital silos

The Agile solution

To address these challenges, and to increase the chances for a successful “agility” implementation, an organization should consider the following aspects:

Follow a framework – For your agile transformation, deploy a coherent framework covering 4 main aspects: organizational/cultural aspect, leadership and governance, structure and processes and tools & technology aspect.

Know the starting point + where to end – Understand, from an agility perspective, where your organization needs to be at the end of the transformation. Using a maturity model will help you plot where your organization currently stands and where it needs to reach.

Ensure you are covering people, process & technology – It is important to consider user/business process as well as information related to them and the target considering the overall objectives as well as issues, risks and challenges.

Focus on people and organization – Agility from a people perspective should cover 3 main areas: skills, software lifecycle and the technology stack.

Have a plan; start small & use incubators to grow – As per your organizations starting point, challenges and targets it is mandatory to have a clearly defined, agreed and holistic (covering all aspects as per above) plan.

Anticipate the big question – Such as: organization structure, targets & incentives, addressing your existing landscapes and IT and Commercial Models.

And last but not the least is the point that to successfully implement an agile way of working, one should learn from previous experiences. When we work with organizations to lead their agile implementation we apply our learnings from hundreds of previous engagements. Plus, we have used these learning to create some innovative readymade solutions – like IAF (integrated architecture framework), CAF (Capgemini agile framework), and CCP (Capgemini Cloud Platform) to name a few. The result? In one of our projects our team was able to deliver agile implementation for our client that helped them cut down the total cost of ownership by 30%[1]. In another project, we moved an existing architecture consisting of more than 1,400 servers to AWS, we reduced build times from two days to one hour and reduced the end-to-end environment build time from four weeks to two days[2]. Connect with our experts to learn more about these solutions and to talk to them about implementing a successful agile transformation.

[1] https://www.capgemini.com/consulting-gb/wp-content/uploads/sites/34/2018/05/agile-brochure.pdf

[2] https://www.capgemini.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/home_office_aws_case_study.pdf

[1] https://hbr.org/2016/04/the-secret-history-of-agile-innovation

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