In this article. we look at what drives large, established organization to undertake a waterfall to agile transition. Contrary to many younger companies or even startups, who have worked in a agile fashion from the beginning, and know nothing else, our large, established clients are different. They typically feature:
- large, complex application landscapes, often tightly coupled.
- established processes, methods, tools to analyze, design, build, deploy and operate software and features.
- large to very large business and IT departments with highly specialized people/teams, typically organized by business domain/system/platform/task.
Building a new feature or product thus requires collaboration of many of the specialist resources, both business and IT. Implementation of these products and features has a ripple effect across the application landscape (e.g. affects the front-end system, customer databases, billing and payment systems, finance/controlling, etc. etc.).
Because of these interdependencies, these organizations typically bundle changes into large releases that are scheduled well in advance, and occur from once to a few times per year.
The downsides are:
- long-term, detailed planning is required, resulting in high planning efforts.
- large volume of change introduced with every release (in lean terms: large batch size), requiring massive preparation, coordination, testing and debugging efforts.
- long time-to-market, because the long-term plan does not invite frequent changes and reprioritization.
- high implementation efforts (high cost per feature)
- little incentive for continuous improvement – one can hide a lot of imperfections in the software development lifecycle and the underlying processes and tools if you are on a annual release cycle.
- does not promote a ‘stop and fix’ culture
- perpetuates the high degree of specialization in people and teams.
Now with digitalization shaking up every industry, and nimble competitors appearing everywhere, these downsides are no longer sustainable for clients – change is inevitable.
Is agile a solution? We will look at this in our next blog. Stay tuned.