Taking Agile Beyond Software Development

Harish Thyagarajan

16 Oct 2017

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Over the past few years, technology focused firms have rapidly adopted agile ways of thinking and acting. Being “Agile” in the present times is no more a great thing for the early adopters. The adoption of Agile started off with the developers led teams, which over a period of time went on to impact the entire organizational strategy. As businesses of the modern era are increasingly feeling the impact of market disruption, the decision makers of the companies are looking at agility to deliver its benefits more broadly.

 

Over the years, Agile ways have begun to expand outwards from the developer team. As companies ventures into the project and portfolio management, new approaches are strongly extending the agile thinking when it comes to matching the demand and capacity. On the other side, the DevOps moment is also enabling this flow to continue into the production.

 

However, most of the CIO’s know that this is just a limited view of the value stream. Their accountability for an application ends only when it is decommissioned from the last server and it no longer requires any further work. Their responsibility includes managing both customized software as well as the off the shelf software, supporting the company’s day to day operations beyond the core value system and also handling the operational situations, be it simple operations or chaotic emergencies.

 

Agile principles provide contextually useful practises across different verticals. Below mentioned are some valuable lessons for the CIO’s in IT service management.

Customer Focused Approach

This shift is being triggered by the demand of customers within and outside the company. Companies will have to change their focus from the internally reviewed output metrics to that of the customer assessed outcomes. By doing so, the CIO’s will have to also take into consideration both the short term realization as well as the long term sustainability.

Process Simplification

In order to attain long term sustainability, companies must have a clear understanding of the value that its components offer. The company management should also have a good understanding on what it takes to maximize this value. The processes must be strictly reviewed on a regular basis in order to attain a sustainable flowing value.

Systems Thinking

Some of the complex IT system generally work in non-obvious ways, where the interaction effects of these components are actually much more impactful than that of the simple combination of the set of components themselves. This is all the more true for the business systems and the people that operate them. The CIOs will have to get a clear view of their domain and closely watch for system effects of decisions and actions.

Effective Visualization

In order to ensure that there is clear transparency for effective operational decision making and proactive improvement, strong visualization systems will be required that spread throughout key data in real time, clearly highlighting variances and emerging effects early to avoid the emergency reporting scenarios.

Objective Assessment and Focused Learning

Almost all IT service management operations avoid the risk of conducting post project review. However, companies must certainly create a room for continuous learning and improvement, based on the assessment of the project’s present state by the associates who work in it. This learning can only happen if employees from various departments connect and work together as a team.

Automating the Process

In order to be cost effective, companies will have to find ways, where ever possible, to automate the process. All the team members will have to undertake a high frequency manual task, they should find new options to automate the process in order to eliminate the inefficiencies. The Agile teams can also start analyzing the ways in which the customers are using various digital channels and come up with self- service options for streamlining interactions. Automation allows employees to become much more productive and creative at work.

Strong Leadership Approach

In order to effectively achieve the above mentioned practices, it takes a whole new mindset, one that is focused on the leadership as much as management that respectfully communicates values and vision. This will bring out trust and commitment through transparency and will certainly motivate the employees and make them more productive.

In this digital era, all the aspects of a business will have to move at a rapid pace. Companies will have to rapidly accelerate the implementation of initiatives and continuously aim to improve their customer experience. As a matter of fact, Agile has a good track record in all these areas. If companies can take agile beyond software, they have a great chance of enhancing their understanding of customers’ needs.


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