Waterfall to Agile Transition

There is no denying the fact that Agile methods are growing in popularity in becoming the most favourite software delivery methods. However successful agile transition requires more than the adoption of agile ceremonies and practices. Unlike other methodologies, agile methods require a philosophical shift in thinking and management style. Ade Shokhoya covers how organisations can navigate their way to successful transition. Here is an extract:

In this book you will discover proven agile transition strategies that will give you a competitive advantage, more influence and greater control over your career, including:How to get senior management, colleagues, and customers to ‘buy’ into AgileThe art of “Stealth Agile” and how to use it to create organisational change.

How to avoid the common Agile mistakes that could cost you your job and reputationThe three personality types key to the success of any Agile transition. How to deal with resistance to Agile software development.

Wanted: Agile project manager. Spot the warning signs early on. An organization looking for Agile project managers is probably running projects and may have heard that Agile is the way to “do more for less” — i.e., save money. The role here will need clarification. Why does the organization want to transition to Agile? Is it to save money, do more for less cost, or do they want to keep running projects and create the illusion of Agile?

The governance excuse. We can’t govern Agile projects like Waterfall projects, where there are the gates and decision points. How can we control the budget, where is the stakeholder engagement and accountability?

Lack of leadership support. Without buy-in and support from the top, you’re unlikely to succeed.  Watch out for middle managers pursuing their own agendas.

Scrum as a process or method, not a guiding principle.

People don’t always understand the principles underlying Agile methods. Scrum is a simple process based on these principles. The trouble starts when people start adapting Scrum methods without understanding the principles (like tinkering with your car engine without understanding how it works), which is why you end up with things like Water-Scrum-Fall.

Project managers’ beliefs. Watch out for project managers who believe it’s a well-known fact that rigid adherence to a recognized project management method is the only way to deliver effective change, and if it’s not working you need to do more “project stuff” (strengthen your change-control procedures and adhere to stricter governance).

Agile is just another fad or new methodology. People believe they just have to ride it out until it goes away.
The focus is on delivering projects instead of products and services. Is the focus of the organization on delivery, or have your projects become bigger and more important than the products they deliver?

People don’t know what Agile looks like. Can you share a vision of what a good Agile organization looks like? If somebody had never seen a sunrise, how would you describe it to them; what if you had never seen a sunrise either?

External suppliers and offshore workers. These are usually based on fixed requirements and deliverables. Collaboration through contract negotiation and intermediaries isn’t going deliver value in an Agile environment. Another approach is required to make these relationships work.
A lack of trust or communication between the business and development communities. Agile principles are based on building a culture of trust and respect between both parties.

Partial adoption, or Water-Scrum-Fall. The best you will achieve is mini-Waterfall; at worst you get suboptimal Waterfall.
The use of estimates instead of story points. This is a subset of partial adoption. It places the focus on what things cost and not on what generates the most value.

A big-bang culture. Storing up inventory and delivering it in a splurge of disruptive chaos gets noticed more than incremental change.
Isn’t the ScrumMaster just a project manager? Some organizations send their project managers to a Scrum course, expecting that to sort things out.

The illusion of progress. Some organizations run lots of projects (even though they have insufficient resources), so people have to participate in multiple teams. They create lots of progress reports to paper over the cracks in the hope that nobody notices the true state of the project until it’s too late.
There is no “I” in “team.” Some project teams are set up and disbanded so swiftly they never ever get past the storming phase.