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October 22, 2021

Top 5 Reasons Why Agile Practices Must Be Built to Scale

by: Chris Tozzi

Most teams today are familiar with agile practices. Indeed, it has been a full two decades since the publication of the "Agile Software Manifesto," which brought the agile development conversation front and center. Since then, the agile concept has been expanded to all manner of realms beyond software development, from marketing to customer relations.

This is all well and good. Agile practices are one of the cornerstones of modern business success.

However, on its own, agile is not enough. It must be combined with scalability in order to deliver efficiency, transparency, reliability, and other intended benefits of agile practices. Scalability means that agile processes can be expanded and repeated in a consistent way across the business, as opposed to being applied only for certain teams or projects.

To prove the point, here are five reasons why agile practices must also be scalable practices if they are to deliver any real value.

Advancing Transparency

When every team and project operates according to the same agile principles, the organization as a whole is in a stronger position to embrace transparency.

After all, transparency an agile practices go hand in hand. You can’t achieve the collaboration that agile practices are designed to promote if you lack transparency in the way teams share information and communicate with each other.

When you can scale up your agile practices and apply them to every team and project, then, you achieve maximum transparency.

Maximizing Accountability

Along similar lines, it becomes much easier to ensure that every team and team member is accountable when you have a scalable agile practice that is applied across the board.

If agile practices are implemented only in parts of your organization, teams that run into issues can hide behind inefficient processes or blame others for failing to collaborate with them.

But when agile is an organization-wide standard that scales seamlessly alongside the business, everyone embraces the accountability that agile practices encourage.

Maximizing Efficiency

One of the most basic reasons why businesses embrace the agile movement is that agile practices encourage efficiency. They help teams avoid unnecessary work and maximize the results of the time and resources they invest in projects.

If only part of your organization is agile due to a lack of scalability within agile practices, then, you are at risk of missing out on these efficiency benefits. In contrast, scalable agility maximizes the overall efficiency of the business.

Clear Visibility

Trouble in determining what is happening within an organization, what a project’s status is, and who is responsible for what are some of the most common roadblocks to progress and delivering value. They are also challenges that agile practices help to address.

By implementing scalable agile practices that you apply across the board, you maintain the highest degree of visibility into internal business operations. You avoid delays or wasted resources associated with uncertainty about project direction or status.

Creating Predictability

Nothing tanks employee morale and productivity like an inability to anticipate what is coming next. When processes and initiatives are unpredictable, businesses run the risk that employees will invest time and resources in efforts that never come fully to fruition, or that they will idle because they are unsure what to work on.

Scalable agile practices help to avoid these issues by making every aspect of every business operation foreseeable. The result is maximum predictability, which translates in turn into maximum productivity.

Achieving Scalable Agility

Once you recognize the importance of scaling your agile processes, the big question becomes: How do you scale them?

A full discussion of scaling agile practices is beyond the scope of this article, but basic starting points include identifying successful agile operations within your organization and determining what it will take to scale them. Are the tools that your agile teams use scalable enough to support the entire organization? If not, what will it take to make them so? Likewise, are stakeholders who play a leading role in agile processes—such as scrum masters or agile managers—able to support agile operations across the organization, or will you need to designate additional people for these roles?

Once you can answer questions like these, you can begin scaling agile operations across the entire organization and reaping the transparency, efficiency, accountability, and other benefits that come with it.

Watch executives and other practitioners discuss the intersection of scaled Agile and value stream management in our VSM Summit on Demand, or learn more about ValueOps from Broadcom, the software that makes it happen.