Agile Development Creates Collaborative Culture
Janeen Blanton and Sujey Edward | March 31, 2015
Your initial investment into applying agile processes has revealed amazing results: collaboration between stakeholders; a more highly engaged technical staff; and most importantly, increased customer satisfaction that positively influences the bottom line.
Agile adoption has been such a favorable experience for everyone that the plan is now to roll it out across the entire organization. So how does one roll out an enterprise process that at its core speaks about small, self-organizing, co-located teams?
Some of the most prevalent methods for scaling agile are scrum of scrums, disciplined agile delivery, and scaled agile framework. All of these methods have strong virtues, and we typically incorporate best practices from each of them into our approach. But having participated in many scaling implementations, our agile coaches have found that out-of-the-box solutions are rarely a perfect fit.
In the words of Bruce Lee, “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” Standard methodologies can provide guiding principles, tools and techniques. However, enterprise level agile adoption requires a roadmap that is specific to a company’s corporate culture, its degree of organizational maturity, and the distance between the current and desired levels of agile practice.
With that being said, there is one universal principle that is critical to ensure success—creating a collaborative organization. Collaboration is one of the foundational values of agile. It inspires innovation, improves quality, and increases engagement. This is easy to understand at a team level. But what does a collaborative organization look like?
A collaborative organization removes the barriers between business units and IT, as well as management and staff, so that everyone understands and embraces the vision of an organizational investment and the business value it will ultimately create. It gets everyone on the same page so that they are moving together toward a common goal. Some mechanisms that can aid in creating this kind of collaboration are release planning meetings, synchronized sprints, and a more positive attitude toward failures.
Release planning meetings are a major enterprise level event. The team for a major project includes more than the individual scrum teams. It also includes executive sponsors, business unit management, infrastructure support, IT delivery and operations, marketing, and anyone else that is part of developing and deploying the solution.
During this one to two-day meeting, the executive sponsor explains why this investment is being made and what its business value is. This is a powerful message. It not only exposes the team to the corporate vision, but lets them hear it directly from the visionary.
Next, the enterprise architect presents the architectural vision and common framework. This ensures that the solutions developed are more easily maintained and are in line with organizational constraints such as target architecture, security, and regulatory concerns.
The remainder of the meeting is spent breaking down the project and organizing the program and team level backlogs. Risks, issues, and dependencies can be immediately brought to the attention of other team members and resolved.
Now that everyone has a shared vision and game plan, the next hurdle is to make sure everyone keeps moving together toward the end goal. We use synchronized sprints to help keep teams aligned. Developing and delivering on the same schedule helps to reduce wait time and delays, but more importantly it allows for continuous integration of team deliveries into the whole.
The ability to provide frequent integrated system demonstrations gives business sponsors an opportunity to accept, adapt, or eliminate functionality as it is created. This also allows sponsors to potentially ship products sooner if value has been created for the end user. On one of our recent projects, the executive sponsor realized at an integrated system demo that the functionality needed in the marketplace was already achieved saving his company thousands and allowing his product to be the first to market.
As you embrace your newfound collaborative organization, you will need to embrace failure. Collaboration inherently leads to creativity and innovation. While this often creates increased value and quality, not every new idea will work. However, stifling that creativity can rob your organization of many rewards and damage team morale.
For that reason we use retrospectives to talk as a team about what didn’t work, why it didn’t work, and how we can do it better. Failures also allow us to “pivot,” which is a change in strategy without a change in vision. By embracing failure, we can create a culture of transparency and continuous improvement which will ultimately benefit both our processes and products.
Adopting agile at the enterprise level will not be a one-size-fits-all, out-of-the-box approach. It will be an evolutionary process that is unique to your organization and its goals. Standard methodologies can provide you with some great tools and techniques. However, the foundational principle of creating a collaborative organization should be your first step on the path to success.
Sujey Edward, is vice president of Salient‘s Agile Center of Excellence. Janeen Blanton is a vice president with Salient Commercial Solutions.
- Electronic Chat with Jeroen Morrenhof
- Legacy Systems Are Dead. Really? Don't Count On It.
- Now Accepting Nominations for the 2019 ITA Bridge Awards
- It's time to register for ITA LIVE!
- Registration is Now Open for ITA LIVE 2019!
- What to Expect from a Digital Experience Platform Implementation
- ITA Pro Magazine September Edition is Now Available
- It's National IT Professionals Day
- Save the Date for ITA-LIVE 2019
- OneShield Software and UrbanStat Work Together to Improve Real-Time Analytics and Risk Decision-Making
- ITA LIVE 2019 - SAVE THE DATE!
- Insurance Technology Association Announces New Editor-in-Chief
- August 2018 Edition ITA Pro Magazine is Now Available
- Enterprise Architecture in an Agile World
- Top 10 Tips for Securing Your Mobile Devices and Sensitive Client Data
- Industry Insight: 4 Global Insurance Trends in Digital, Data, Content Services and Security
- Diving Deeper into Prioritizing Your Strategic Digital investments
- Why Content Rules
- How Mass Personalization Will Open the Small Business Benefits Market
- At Year End 2017, Will Your Organization Be Protected from Cyber Risks?
- Do Insurance Bots Dream of Mitigating Risk?
- Conditioned to Respond
- Managing & Mobilizing Insurance Data in a Connected World
- Race to the Finish Line
- New Tools, New Opportunities in Claims
- ITA LIVE: Reaching Insurance Industry Crossroads
- Advice to Insurance IT Leaders: Keep Your Eye on the Ball
- New Date, Venue for ITA LIVE 2017
- Guidewire Makes Major Push to Small and Midtier Market by Acquiring ISCS
- Insurance Disruption is Happening Right Now
- Insurity Adds Strategic Investment Partner, General Atlantic
- Beyond Transformation: The Convergence of Finance, Risk, and Actuarial Functions
- The Rapid Evolution of Consumer Protection Regulation
- Talent Hunt: Finding, Attracting, Retaining Top People
- Insurers Flexing Their Distribution Models
- Technology Driving Disruption in Insurance
- Fear of ‘Next Bubble’ Challenges Life, Annuity Carriers
- Technology Allows Commercial Lines Insurers to Stand Out
- Single Sign-on Viewed as Biggest Tech Challenge for Agencies
- ISCS Observes 20th Anniversary; Scurto Predicts Major Changes Ahead
- Policyholders and Their First Impressions
- Progressive Making Progress on the UBI Front
- High and Dry: Insurers Search for Disaster Recovery Plans
- Insurers Sign The (Un)Dotted Line
- Reflections of a Retired Insurance CIO
- Mobile Device Management Just One Answer to BYOD Issue
- Lessons from GEICO and Progressive on Winning the Critical Buying Stage
- You Are a Target for a Cyber Attack
- Web-based Systems are the Next Evolution in Claims Technology
- Gaining a “Wow” Experience from Web Users
- Time to Shift from Business/IT Alignment to Business/IT Alliance
- Healthcare Insurers Changing to Consumer Model
- Organization is the Key for Selecting Software Vendors
- Analysts Expound on the Needs of the Mid-tier Insurance Market
- Finding the Cure for Obamacare’s Website
- New Software Solutions Benefit Insurers on the Inside and Outside
- Products, Market Impede Investment in Systems for Life Insurers
- Combatting Cyber Threats: Predict, Prevent, Persist
- The Future of Telematics Heads Beyond Insurance
- The Shame in Cyber Security Lapses
- Building Policy Administration Systems for the Future
- Insurers Look Into The Eyes of Their Policyholders
- It’s a New Dawn for the ITA
INSURANCE IT NEWS
- Electronic Chat with Jeroen Morrenhof
- 2019 Global Insurance Accelerator Cohort Reflects Evolution of InsurTech
- Nearly 50% of US Insurers Are Enhancing Security Capabilities Across the Board, Says Novarica
- Xchange Benefits Acquires the Assets of J. Allan Hall & Associates, Inc.
- HazardHub Celebrates 2018
- Slice Launch Studio
- Crawford Technologies Experiences its Strongest Year of Sales and Growth
- InsureTech Company Accurence Secures Fourth Patent
The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
ITA LIVE 2019
The tide is up! It's time to register for ITA LIVE 2019, our annual educational and networking conference! Our theme is "The InsurTech Revolution: Cutting Through the Hype." and we'll be bringing in a torrent of industry thought leaders, amazing insight and wonderful perspectives on the world of insurtech and its impact on the insurance landscape.
ITA LIVE 2019 will present real-life examples of true startup technologies that are helping insurers gain real advantage -- and a competitive edge -- in the marketplace. We’ll highlight the more successful InsurTech partnerships, while offering case studies that demonstrate exciting innovation and cutting-edge techniques impacting all aspects of the insurance ecosystem.
Ride the wave to LIVE 2019. Sign up today! We look forward to seeing you in May, 2019!
BLOGS AND COLUMNS
You have surely heard it said that small businesses are the growth engine for America. Today, the phrase has a special ring to it for benefits... READ MORE
With stagnant growth and lingering low interest rates, the life insurance industry faces a challenging future... READ MORE
Finding insurance carriers willing to write commercial lines risks has always been a challenge for producers... READ MORE
As Guidewire Software prepares for the start of Connections, its 11th annual user conference that begins on Nov. 2, Brian Desmond, chief marketing... READ MORE