Three Challenges in the Way of Enterprise Agility

The market is now demanding that companies prioritize agility and the ability to quickly adapt to change. It’s no longer a “nice-to-have”, it’s imperative. And this goes well beyond supporting and growing agile software development teams. The entire business needs to be on board.

That’s Enterprise Agility.

The following content is taken from a webinar entitled, “Enterprise Agility with Jira Align: Facing the Challenges Head-on”.

It is the first in a three-part series:

  1. Three Challenges in the Way of Enterprise Agility
  2. Value-based Planning in Enterprise Agility
  3. Work the Plan: Achieve Enterprise Agility With Jira Align

What is Enterprise Agility?

Most development and IT teams are now running based on Agile principles, at least to some extent. But, other departments in the organization often are not. This creates tension, often holding the development teams back from reaching their full potential. This is because it’s difficult to operate in an Agile way when project management, funding, resourcing, and other functions are managed more traditionally.

Additionally, non-technical teams like marketing, finance, or HR that are not working in an Agile environment are slower to apply customer feedback and struggle with managing change. This results in missed opportunities, lower ROI, and loss of market share.

The solution to these pain points is Enterprise Agility — applying the principles of Agile and Lean to the entire organization, often by leveraging a scaled Agile framework like SAFe. True Enterprise Agility incorporates all aspects of the business and affects how the entire organization approaches strategy, funding, management, and delivery of value to the customer.

What challenges stand in the way of Enterprise Agility?

Understandably, achieving Enterprise Agility is a huge undertaking. Changing the way the entire business runs is nothing to take lightly. As we’ve worked with clients undergoing massive Agile transformations, we’ve found that many of the challenges they face on the way to Enterprise Agility fall into three categories:

  • Lack of visibility
  • Not being focused on value delivery
  • Failing to effectively train

Lack of visibility

enterprise agility challenges

As organizations begin to pursue Enterprise Agility, it quickly becomes clear that visibility across the organization needs to improve. With few exceptions, these companies find that workers not at the executive level are not familiar with the company’s mission, vision, and strategy. Many employees wouldn’t be able to speak to the established flow of value to the customer. And, to some extent, the processes and frameworks the organization is attempting to follow are not clear and understandable to all.

This lack of visibility can lead to inefficiencies, unnecessary rework, and compliance issues. Additionally, workers are less engaged when they don’t fully understand where what they’re doing fits into the bigger picture.

A truly Agile enterprise achieves alignment from the C-suite down to the newest entry-level worker, making strategy clear at the highest level and trickling down to the day-to-day processes that best support value delivery.

Not being focused on value delivery

And, speaking of value delivery, a lack of focus in this area is another major challenge businesses face on the road to Enterprise Agility.

Traditionally, most organizations structure their business units around the org charts. Their planning, management, and funding functions are organized based around huge projects with structured annual plans. These traditional models are not conducive to Agility. Agile enterprises must take on a product mindset rather than being project-focused.

This is achieved through the identification of value streams and organizing the business around them. That’s difficult to do with no clear portfolio or product vision and a mechanism for radiating that strategy to all stakeholders. When it’s achieved, though, it eliminates siloes within the business and trains everyone’s efforts where the focus should be: on the customer.

Additionally, these companies lack meaningful metrics that allow them to determine whether they are successfully delivering value to their customers or how to improve.

Failure to effectively train

The third significant challenge enterprises face on the journey to Agility is a failure to effectively prioritize training.

An Agile transformation involves significant change management and, in some cases, a completely new way of working for most people involved. Training and enablement are vital if the transformation is to be successful. Training should focus on:

  • The change and the reason behind it
  • The value of the chosen framework
  • The value of the agile tools being used and how to use them
  • The reasons behind the established processes

Providing sufficient training and enablement will smooth what would otherwise be a very rocky transition into new ways of working. Employees who feel informed and comfortable with what is expected of them are far more likely to support the move to Enterprise Agility.

If you’d like to learn more about facing the challenges in the way of Enterprise Agility — including how a framework and tooling can help — watch our webinar-on-demand, “Enterprise Agility with Jira Align: Facing the Challenges Head-on”.

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