In 2001 at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah, a group of software developers gathered to talk, to ski, and to try to come up with better ways to manage development processes. Out of this meeting came a new framework for managing software development called Agile, defined by the Agile Manifesto.
Agile was created in response to the heavy, slow programming processes that were the hallmark of the 1980s and 1990s. The goal of Agile was to focus on adapting quickly to changing needs, and to focus on what the customer wanted vs. what the software could do. Today, Agile adoption is increasing at a rapid pace, with more than half of today’s software development teams self-identifying as Agile shops.
This growth has some interesting implications on the management side. While Agile was originally conceived as a solution to heavy, bureaucratic processes for software development, it is increasingly, along with principles from Lean Manufacturing, being adapted by businesses as a management strategy for the whole organization.
In part, this trend of Agile integration is being driven by a trend towards merging development and operations. While software development teams, like IT teams in the late 1990s, have been typically managed as a separate business unit or silo, more recently organizations are seeing the value of thinking about development as a strategic part of business operations.
Last year Gartner predicted that 2015 would be the year of DevOps, and that by 2016, development and operations would be fully integrated in a growing number of large organizations. While this prediction has largely been correct, it’s clear that the practice of merging development and operations is harder than it looks. While many organizations are working towards integrated DevOps, only 20% have been successful in fully leveraging the value according to a 2015 CA survey.
Part of the challenge goes back to Agile adoption. The integration of Agile into the daily processes of software development teams has brought with it a new language. From stand-ups and sprints to user stories, Agile teams tend to be passionate about their process. But operations leaders who are not well versed in Agile may struggle to integrate, and may not see the value of all things Agile.
To fully leverage the benefits of both Agile adoption and DevOps integration, many organizations need to take a step back and take a look at the bigger picture. This is where some outside support can be helpful:
Agile Assessment – Where and how is Agile being implemented in the organization? Who is familiar with the process, and where are there gaps in understanding that need to be filled with training? An assessment can help define areas where more training and support is needed.
Agile Coaching – How can you support operations and business leaders as they become more familiar with the Agile framework? Coaching can be a great place to start.
Scaling Support – A small adoption of Agile may not require intense training but if the intent is to scale and integrate Agile across the organization, more specific planning may be required.
The trend towards both DevOps integration and the use of Agile as a business management framework hold the potential for tremendous benefits in terms of efficiency and adaptability.