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Agile Aligned Organization

June 2, 2008

I was having a conversation with a client last week about things to consider when moving to an agile development organization.  Here’s some notes from the conversation:

  • Create product and customer focus: Design around products and processes necessary to fulfill current and future customer/market requirements.
  • Enable agile development: As product development is transitioned to an agile approach, the organization must be structured to support the new teams and create product focused team effectiveness, not task efficiency.
  • Create local ownership: Development teams should have ownership of and accountability for the entire development process. Team members should have visibility into the full processes and responsibility for products (not just tasks) and be encouraged and empowered to make improvements. The distance between issue emergence and resolution should be minimized.
  • Ensure organizational standards: Despite being autonomous, teams must conform to standards that optimize organizations overall effectiveness and ensure specialty skills are maintained and enhanced across teams.
  • Optimize project release management: Development management, the PMO organization and charter system must recognize how agile teams function and plan, prioritize and release work to those teams in a compatible manner that maximizes throughput while minimizing the time to create new functionality. Additionally, measurements should focus on ensuring the development process is working efficiently and effectively to deliver customer-valued results.

This constitutes a pretty good list of guiding principles and goals. Hard work is still needed to apply these to their organization.  Even with the same objectives, every company will need to design their own details, staff new roles and plan and execute their transition. Depending on the organization’s size, this can take a couple months to multiple years to fully implement.

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