The Agile methodologies have become increasingly popular in the last few years. For instance, some large companies like IBM manage to adapt them (see details in the article How IBM’s Biggest Business Unit Got Agile). What make them so attractive? And what are they interesting for large companies ? These new project managements enable companies to stay relevant and competitive in the digital world.
1. What are Agile Methodologies ?
Thanks to the contribution of 17 software developers, the Agile Manifesto is born in 2001. His goal was to help people to develop software in a more efficient way by establishing key ideas, as following:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
In this respect, these new ways of working promote iterative development. It consists of regular check-in with the user (see my previous article on Test and Learn) and tested solutions by accelerating the delivery and by minimising costs of change.
In addition, these methods also value the human factor by promoting collaboration and multidisciplinary within teams. This automatically leads to raise the client satisfaction, who is at the core of the conception process and the stakeholders’ involvement. Are the Agile methodologies a mere fad or a real game changer?
2. Why are they more relevant for the current market needs?
Today’s business environment is tumultuous with tough competitors and more and more demanding customers looking for a unique experience. In fact, they have to face up to assaults from digital natives like startups and collaborative platforms, for example Uber, Airbnb or BlaBlaCar… This is why a successful digital transformation depends on the capability for companies to use digital technology in all of its areas to provide best value to their consumers.
Actually, the Agile methodologies make possible for large companies to adapt to dynamic market expectations throughout the entire project life cycle. They accelerate the digital transformation by giving a framework to anticipate and respond rapidly to new needs.
3. Difficulties to adopt this model in large companies
Traditional conception of innovation needs a new breath
At the beginning, the Agile methodologies were developed for a small team or project. This is why, today a lot of long-lasting companies have difficulties to adapt these methods to their structure. Why?
Companies can no longer consider innovation as it has been under the industrial culture. Particularly in France, we have often an exclusively engineering-based approach which follows the classic Waterfall model. The project is conducted in a linear fashion, passing from one service to another without adapting the delivery according the client needs and potential new technical constraints.
However, this does not mean that we have to let it down altogether, but that companies must adjust it and take what is relevant and valuable for business in agile methods.
Not so easy for large companies
First of all, the challenges of the adoption of Agile management are not the same for all companies, as Cécile Dejoux highlighted in her article ‘Transformation numérique de l’entreprise, la nécessité d’une démarche globale’ (Digital transformation of the company, the need for a global approach).
Actually, the digital natives have an organisational advantage that makes them more flexible and responsive to change. Contrary to them, large companies need to reinvent themselves. They have to imagine a new strategy to progressively change their culture and involve their collaborators and clients.
Therefore, this kind of transformation have a big impact on services and individuals. It requires a huge capacity of coordination and communication to frame their organisational change in such a large structure. It is important to point out that not all projects are suitable for agile methods, just as there are many, the best known of which are: Extreme Programming, Lean and Scrum.
But don’t believe that you can convert all your services in one shot with a turnkey solution. You need to organise it cleverly and progressively. It necessitates time, patience and being able to convince resisters to changes or sceptics.
To sum up, this short video from CA Technologies ‘Agile Management: Transform Ideas into Innovations’ explains the capacity of Agile management to ‘build a flexible bridge between ideas and execution’.
Finally, the Agile methods challenge our traditional conceptions of project management as well as the corporate culture. These new forms of work qualified as ‘demand pull’ rather than ’technology push’ will dominate tomorrow’s market. If it is not already done… So we should start to consider its benefits.
If you have any good or bad experiences with the Agile methodologies to share or you just want to discuss about it, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am currently working on this subject for my thesis, thank you for your help!