Wednesday, 27 April 2016 09:58

It's time to think bigger about Agile


"Think a little bit bigger," advises a CA executive.

When it comes to current trends in Agile, "Everything is centred around Agile at a larger scale than the team," CA vice president for product management Ryan Polk told iTWire.

In some cases the methodology is being scaled to the entire business, but to be successful it's necessary to match the organisation structure to Agile, which means flattening the organisation.

Leadership and human resources practices also need to change accordingly, he said.

Don't put off organisational changes, as existing structures may work against the successful adoption of Agile practices.

But even at the IT level, Agile at scale presents some challenges. The traditional approach of introducing Agile to one team at a time doesn't work when there are say 300 teams within an organisation - the result is inconsistent practices.

So Polk recommends introducing it simultaneously to seven to ten teams that are working on the same project.

If you're about to pilot the use of Agile, do so at a higher level than you're currently considering. If you thought you'd start with one team, make it three or five. If a group, then go for the entire business unit instead.

"Think a little bit bigger," he said, adding that going straight to scaled Agile practices is advisable even if you do decide to start with a single team.

Agile should be introduced on a wholesale basis, he said, not just among the engineering teams. In some organisations that means training thousands of people.

Polk joined CA as part of the Rally acquisition, and he said that during the ten months since the acquisition the CA and Rally teams and products have been fully integrated into the company's Agile business unit.

There is "continued and growing investment in Agile Central," he said, with new features and functions on their way, along with new investment in supporting data centres around the world.

Polk noted that there was initially some concern among former Rally employees that their Agile culture was endangered by the takeover, but those fears did not come true.

The acquisition has been successful, and the Rally leaders have moved into wider leadership roles within CA where they have brought about significant change, he said.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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