In my first post in this series, I shared six reasons for adopting Agile in enterprises. In spite of those reasons, several IT organizations in North America, Europe and rest of the world have not initiated agile adoption. Why? This is not because they have not heard or learnt about the benefits of agile methods. This is because of factors related to organizational culture and several myths and misinterpretations on agile. In the second post, I discussed the three barriers I have come across in some situations.
In this post, I am going to continue this topic and discuss about what it takes to bring business users and IT teams together in forming cross-functional teams.
Stage-gated IT environments are known for gates such as ‘Requirements Sign-off’. When requirements are signed-off, IT teams are left alone as business users get engrossed in their day-to-day activities. There are no weekly meetings or monthly demos which bring IT teams and business users together.
When we introduce agile methods in an environment like this, the first step is about forming cross functional teams. I know, it is not easy to have a fulltime business analyst in your team – I mean a business analyst who is a representative of your business users. However, you can have a cross functional team with all other roles – developers, testers, DBAs, etc. When this happens, the next step is to experience how iterative and incremental development and engineering practices can help IT teams. That is when IT teams learn agile practices and align towards delivering working software in short iterations.
With this accomplishment, you must be able to demonstrate working software to business users. When you are confident of demonstrating working software, involve business users in demos at the end of two or three iterations. Let me tell you, it is very important to identify two to four contacts in your team of business users. These two or four contacts have to be team players who believe in the power of collaborative spirit. When you do this, those two, three or four representatives are going attend your demo to see features that they are going to use in future and provide some meaningful feedback; and, they are going to talk about this new way of developing software with their peers! They are going to be your success champions!
Well begun is half done! Next, how about a half-day workshop on agile methods to our business users with the help of our success champions who have experienced the benefits in going through the demonstration of working software and providing feedback? Does this sound like a logical sequence of steps to involve business users?
Let me recap.
Do you think these steps will work in your organization? What do you have to share?
How fixed or mandatory are your stage gates? Let us find answers to this question in the next post!