How do you change a waterfall software development culture that has been in existence for decades to begin using Agile? That was what I asked myself when I took over product development of Compuware’s Mainframe Solutions last spring. I began working with the leaders of Product Management and Development to define a 24-month plan to transform how we delivered our software. Later that summer Compuware hired a new president for our Mainframe Solutions business (who would later become CEO of Compuware). He was an advocate of Agile and would champion our transformation. He had just one slight change to the plan, instead of a “24-month” schedule, he wanted it completed in “2-4 months.” That minor change of the placement of the hyphen made a huge difference as to how we would proceed!
We are 2 months into our Agile transformation and we’re making great progress on our transformation. It hasn’t been easy and many people have put in some long hours to make it a reality. I would like to share the experiences we had with our transformation into Agile. This post is the first in a series to document our journey.
First and foremost, Agile software development frameworks are not a means to an end themselves. Rather, they are an enablement of a different business model. I’m referring to business agility, not just agile development. So, this is really a transformation of the entire business, not just the software development organization. To achieve this type of transformation, you need a champion who will sponsor and support the change. As I mentioned earlier, I have that in our new CEO.
So, I achieved the 1st step in our Agile transformation – executive sponsorship.
Going agile will impact the products, processes, and promises made by an organization. It requires everyone to buy into the business agility model and take ownership for his or her role in the success (or failure) of business agility model. Consequently, the main reason why executive sponsorship is so important is that transforming into an agile business requires a culture change of everyone in the business, not just the software engineering group.
The next step is to understand the business agility objectives that the Agile software development frameworks will need to support.