5 Barriers to Agile adoption (and how to overcome them)
Experts Voice
24 August 2020
5 Barriers to Agile adoption (and how to overcome them)
Experts Voice
24 August 2020

Rapid adaptability is crucial to a company’s ability to remain relevant and competitive in the current landscape. Across industries, those who have adopted Agile methods reported better overall performance. However, adopting Agile successfully is still a challenge for many organizations and can demotivate organizations from implementing it.

Companies face five main challenges while adopting Agile.

No buy-in from management

Management can feel challenged by Agile’s iterative development. Executives are accustomed to seeing the entire project plan laid out in detail. They must be convinced that a new, evolutionary framework would translate into business value.

Solution: Run a pilot to demonstrate the core tenets of Agile — improved speed to market, increased ability to tackle black swans, and rapid innovation — to ease the process of management buy-in.

At odds with the organizational culture

Often, organizations are not structured to work in collaboration with cross-functional teams. The top-down structure of units in such organizations further reinforces operational silos. On the other hand, Agile relies on team-oriented work and product ownership to deliver value.

Solution: Agile is not only a technical framework, but it also embodies ideas of organizational change management. Evaluate your corporate culture and create a tailored Agile solution around your organization’s core practices.

Inadequate resource planning

Agile requires quick access to resources — funding, talent, technology — to deliver value on a timely basis. However, traditional resource planning is centered around the waterfall model that offers more structure and early visibility into the project.

Solution: Support is vital. Introduce Agile into core management processes like staffing, procurement, and IT. Not only would the introduction aid product development, but it would also help embed Agile into the organization’s DNA, making it easier to scale Agile.

Inexperience with Agile

Inexperience is a catch-22 situation for traditional companies trying Agile for the first time. How does one introduce Agile without any experience? Even after the team has adopted Agile, they can face many roadblocks when it comes to resolving issues. How does one respond rapidly without the know-how?

Solution: An Agile coach from a similar industry or an internal resource who has worked on another successful Agile team is best suited to help the new team implement its Agile strategy. Once implemented, the coach/internal resource works with them to resolve any challenges down the line.

Legacy system preservation

Organizations often find themselves pegged by outdated, legacy systems. They refuse to part ways with such systems. This dogmatic preservation can prove fatal to Agile adoption because Agile is focused on delivering value rather than keeping up with tedious processes.

Solution: Identify critical dependencies of Agile teams on legacy systems. Then, introduce technological tools that either remove the dependency or liaison with the legacy system to make the data flow smoother and accessible.

Agile, at its core, accelerates product delivery by using empowered, self-organizing teams. However, missteps made during the transitions can derail the transformational journey and lead to Agile being written off. To avoid such scenarios, organizations should take a measured approach toward Agile. By carefully engineering their Agile adoption, organizations can defy business uncertainty and achieve the best possible outcomes.

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