What is Agility for the organization or the business?
An Agile Organization is one that can quickly identify and validate customer needs and deliver them to the market quickly. The tighter the feedback loops the faster the organization can adapt to changing customer requirements and address poor quality.
- Business Dictionary – The capability of a company to rapidly change or adapt in response to changes in the market. A high degree of organizational agility can help a company to react successfully to the emergence of new competitors, the development of new industry-changing technologies, or sudden shifts in overall market conditions.
- HR Zone – Business agility refers to distinct qualities that allow organizations to respond rapidly to changes in the internal and external environment without losing momentum vision. Adaptability, flexibility and balance are three qualities essential to long-term business agility.
- CIO Magazine – Business agility is the quality that allows an enterprise to embrace market and operational changes as a matter of routine.
- Directing the Agile Organisation – Is the ability of a business system to rapidly respond to change”
Agile Principles are relatively easy to achieve in smaller teams. At enterprise level, traditional teams needs to transform and as team size increases implementation seems more and more difficult. We are good at implementing agile methodologies / SCRUM for smaller teams. Struggle is to roll up from multiple agile teams into one program team. Or visa-versa struggle is to break the big program in smaller agile teams towards one common objective.
Building the pipeline from requirements to delivery gets complicated with more technologies and more product lines. This is even more complicating for services where multiple domains are also added in addition to technologies / product lines. Now let’s assume technology is divided into legacy and the non-legacy, environment based changes, dependency on the third party tools, integration with multi-vendor software’s , etc. Only gets more complicated in forming scrum team aligning with principles.
There is no one solution how the agile teams to be formed. However each team should be characterized by Agile principles. Sharing below some of the key attributes considered in forming enterprise agile organizations, promoting shorter feedback cycles and faster delivery pipelines while designing the organization for delivering releases in agile frameworks. Technical attributes are not explained. I will write about this later separately.
Independent Product Lines : Product lines are developed and the POs work in each of the product line. Specialized PO (who knows more than one product) helps in developing stories for the integration. Developers and testers come are from each Product line. Multiple technologies exist in each product line. PO plays an important role on translating the business requirements into stories understandable and deliverable by scrum teams. So we tried to organize with functionally. Here PO acts as a point of contact for business stakeholders. He holds the key on interfacing with development teams and stakeholders. This leads to single point of failure and also dependent on one person’s ability to translate whole of business into stories. Also organization being heavy on line management and functional management, this structure was slightly modified to fit the purpose. This still continued to have line management in parallel.
Technology : Horizontal technology teams provide technology expertise between the scrum teams based on ask. Higher the expertise higher the rate cards. This could be a matrix organization.
Pool of SMEs by functions. E.g.: Architects, UAX developers, Testers, etc. Scrum team is formed by picking the folks from SME team who will be part of scrum team. Organizationally there could be dual reporting. However from Scrum perspective “scrum team” is accountable for what gets delivered as a TEAM. Technical expertise is as per services offered. This has a different rate card and changes on what gets consumed and what gets delivered. Scrum team need to pay to technology lines to hire a resource and earn by delivering it to customer. This gives financial control and accountability to ensure high utilization. Scrum Master Role is performed in rotation.
Common Dev and Ops Team : Development, Support and Operations part of same team. Resources assumes the roles on rotation
Focus on organizational structure for agility is to break the silos, speed up feedback loops, respond to the changes fast at all levels of the organization – C Level leadership, Technical, Administrative, Operations and inter organizational delivery with minimum impact of bureaucratic obligations.
Share some of the attributes from your experience in Organization design for agile.