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5 Positive Trends coming out of SAP software delivery initiatives for Agile organizations

Recently we’ve spent some quality time with several great organizations in various stages of their Agile transformation initiatives, and a few positive trends have emerged that I would like to share with the Mindset – SAP Agile Community:

1. Reduced Change Management:

Products and the experiences they enable are taking center stage over projects, process, Agile organizationsgovernance, and procedure. Sure, there is a place for each in software delivery organizations, however, leveraging a common framework provides more consistency and less redefinition of format, allowing the Team to expend more focus on the needs of the End User, and delivering a remarkable experience over adherence to change management compliance. Organizations adopting Agile have accepted that change will occur, and welcome change with each Iteration and Product Increment. Change is still managed, but it is streamlined with the Product Owner holding the keys necessary to authorize and approve new enhancements or requirements for implementation by the Dev Team within the selected framework. A culture of fear is replaced by a culture of innovation and exploration when Teams are empowered to factor their insights into the experience.

2. Increased Collaboration Between IT and Business:

Business representatives and Developers are working together continuously throughout the delivery cycle as part of the same Team. Dev Teams are conducting demonstrations with Business Product Owners and their Stakeholders regularly to gather the feedback needed to optimize the value to be realized by End Users. As a result, Dev Teams are less likely to misinterpret requirements traditionally passed via heavy documentation alone and are instead carrying

healthy conversations around User Stories to better grasp, and therefore, implement solutions to Agile organizationsimprove the End User experience. As Product Demonstrations occur, and Stakeholders gain visibility and provide input to the Teams progress firsthand, confidence levels increase, and levels of uncertainty decrease, fostering a more collaborative and open working relationship between IT and Business. Issues, concerns, doubts, risks, and impediments are raised earlier, allowing the collective Team, and Stakeholders to arrive at meaningful conclusions much faster.


3. Improved Quality & Requirements Traceability:

Teams combining Agile software development with pair programming also produce fewer defects, as new functionality is coded, tested, and demonstrated with each iteration, in a potentially shippable state vs. waiting to test in a later phase. This real-time empirical evidence further reduces uncertainty, as it is shared with Stakeholders regularly, to ensure the Team is headed in the right direction with the latest design. Increased visibility for Stakeholders reduces the likelihood of missed or misinterpreted requirements, that could easily be misrepresented as defects. With well-defined Acceptance Criteria, Teams are certain they are seeing eye to eye with the Product Owner and Stakeholders before User Stories are considered ‘Ready’ for implementation. Continued Backlog Refinement with the Product Owner ensures work in progress, as well as future work, is clearly understood by the Dev Team and implemented accordingly.

4. Reduced Cycle Time & Cost:

Agile Teams provide the Product Owner the option to ship the latest Potentially Shippable Product Increment to Production at any time, enabling shorter cycle times, and the realization of value much earlier than traditional phased approaches. Waiting to test inherently accumulates risk in the form of technical debt, to be addressed, proven, or disproven at a later stage, and potentially too late to accommodate established release schedules. By continuously reprioritizing the Product Backlog, the Team ensures the highest value User Stories are delivered just in time, road mapping the most direct route possible to realizing the Minimum Viable Product faster. Functionality that may have been considered ‘must-have’ at initiation may not necessarily be part of the Minimum Viable Product after a few iterations, and as a result, may not need to be implemented to achieve the intended value. If the intended value has been realized, the Product Owner, Sponsor, and Stakeholders may opt to discontinue further development, potentially reducing costs and freeing up resources for utilization elsewhere.

5. Improved Team Morale & Commitment to Success:

Rather than processing work orders, tickets, or business requirements documents, Agile Teams are engineering solutions to problems and creating remarkable experiences for the End Users that will ultimately determine whether or not the initiative has been successful. Agile Teams are empowered to share their insights, and to operate autonomously, with as little interference as possible, to optimize their delivery, and achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves at their own pace. As a result, Teams drive their own destiny and feel a sense of control not typically present with traditional methods. Morale is recognizably higher, and the people participating feel a stronger sense of commitment to the organization, Team, and End Users in a manner that may be sustained over longer durations, or indefinitely. As your organization continues the Agile transformation journey, remember to take time to recognize the patterns, trends, and lessons learned. Celebrate successes, failures, and continue to look for opportunities to improve.

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David Otto is a Sr. ScrumMaster at Mindset Consulting. Focused on the evolution and practical application of the Agile software delivery framework, David has tailored implementation and transformation initiatives for a wide variety of software development organizations, spanning the array of industry and technology, with teams distributed around the globe. As an Agile Coach, David has also contributed to the creation of multiple enterprise-wide Agile training curriculums, served as a training facilitator, and is currently responsible for the Mindset Agile Community of Practice.

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