Agile Centre of Excellence, why we need one

Within VLE’s (very large enterprises), the culture of silo’s is difficult to fracture and re-arrange.  Waterfall or traditional methods of IT management and deployment do not easily surrender or die-off.  There is always a rear-guard action by vested interests against concepts which challenge their power.  Agile demands smaller, cross-functional teams, with requisites skills, no hierarchy, based around clear project requirements and designs, working together in an iterative and compressed cycle, to drive out a proper solution.  To introduce this approach into firms, it is recommended to use a COE, which will possess the following all contained in one document:

  • Certified Agile Consultants and Coaches
  • Defining what Agile means to the firm, the processes, terms, vision, strategy, imperatives
  • Definition of roles, skills for each role, Agile terms (eg. ‘done’)
  • Plan for training and human resource planning
  • Standardised tooling and automation choices
  • Architecture principles and guiding concepts
  • Where Agile should be used

There are 4 general areas a firm may deploy or start with Agile.

Depending on where you start the journey may be different.  This will mean different levels of technical and related skills, different types of training and coaching, different but standardised automation and tooling.  The COE should identify these journeys and the overall model of using Agile to transform the business and culture as given in the next figure.

 

By focusing on the key areas of Agility, Execution and improved Customer experiences, the culture of the Agile teams will remain consistent.  Further, the COE should use maturity mapping models and assessments (example is my own Agile-Scrum Maturity Model), to see which key variables are necessary for success, and where weaknesses exist.  Monitoring progress, reporting and using proper tools are important in this regard.

 

The COE is part of a long-term investment in Agile.  Changes to the culture, financing, HR, and skill sets take time, especially as more Agile teams are formed, and the project size increases in scale and complexity.

Continuous improvements will be supported by a focus on continuous automation, feedback loops, testing, and monitoring.

Tools listed at the bottom of the above figure help facilitate a standardised approach to Agile tooling.

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