March 22, 2018

How agile are your projects?

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Janne Sjögren

Lead Solution Consultant, Tieto

Have you tried implementing Agile methodology in your company, yet kept on running projects in the same manner as always? Are you ready to step away from the status quo? Have you ever heard of Agile development?

Tieto Fiori Factory is the road to Agile UI design.

Many development projects fail because Agile has not been implemented properly.

Common issues that companies often face when trying to implement an Agile approach include lack of leadership support, poor communication between business and development, big-bang culture, lack of knowledge regarding Agile development, and use of effort estimations instead of story points.

Simply employing a Scrum Master does not enable your transition to Agile or Scrum; change management skills are critical to success. Analysts and developers may find themselves working for the business and becoming product owners, and the project management headcount might be reduced to enable Agile.

Many people have never worked in a true Agile environment and it is important to include everyone in the journey. One way to increase understanding is to think for example about a manufacturing line for computers: If you set up a new production line, would you break it down every time you want to introduce a new computer model?

The focus should continuously be in the product and in delivering value, not in running projects. The best way to create a product in the first place is probably through a product development project, but once you've delivered the basic product, the most efficient way to change and improve the product is through Agile.

How does Tieto Fiori Factory respond to this?

With the help of several years of project experience, Tieto has evaluated different delivery methods and developed a more efficient model, which especially helps SAP UI development fully benefit from the Agile methodology: Tieto Fiori Factory.

Implement the Methodology

Traditionally, extensive specifications are needed in the beginning of a project to fully understand all the aspects of the final product. Experience has shown, however, that the real business and technical needs are understood clearly only during the actual development.

When following the Waterfall method, managing changes in scope becomes challenging, because the project needs to backtrack several phases to change specifications. With the Agile method, you can adapt to changing needs much more rapidly, as the specification phases are less intensive and development can be started faster. This results in a shorter timeframe from the drawing board to productive business use.

Keep in mind that Agile is not something you set up once and then forget. It brings considerable changes to work methods, and it needs a lot of nurturing to ensure a smooth landing.

In the Tieto Fiori Factory, all development is conducted in sprints, which enables full development transparency through regular demos and allows the entire team to receive constant feedback, which steers development in the right direction and improves practices.

Form the Team

A common misunderstanding is that you need a large team to work on a big project. Sometimes it can be more efficient to form smaller teams to bring quicker results, and apply the “team of teams" concept. When setting up the Tieto Fiori Factory, the development teams have a solid support network to guide them in Agile practices, for example in terms of Scrum Master.

Multi-talented cross-functional teams can work extremely well, providing that every member participates and contributes effectively. This will result in long-term commitment and focus on delivering value. Even though these teams should be able to handle their backlog autonomously, it is important to highlight the roles of Solution Owner and Product Owner, who are ultimately responsible for making decisions on prioritization and thus ensuring that the development pace is kept at a high standard.

Continuous focus on delivering the product and added value

As said, Agile is not something you simply setup and forget. There must be a clear understanding at all times regarding “What have we done”, “What are we doing” and “What are we going to do”. When this is combined with the ability to quickly change priorities, a tracking tool to monitor actual progress is needed. In Tieto Fiori Factory, a Kanban board is setup in order to track dependencies between teams, identify the critical path – and avoid spending hours on creating status reports.

Being part of a successful transition is rewarding, but you may learn a lot more from failing to implement Agile. A key lesson that Agile teaches you is the necessity to reflect and learn.

If you only have project managers, chances are that the solution to every problem is a project. If this is the case, you should consider several issues: Are you content with generating status reports, managing risks and issues, and chairing meetings with angry stakeholders?

This does not mean that you should stop projects completely, but rather that you should be strict regarding entry criteria. Make sure they scale and can't be handled more efficiently by your Scrum team.

The long-term partnership of Tieto and SAP

This year, Tieto turns 50 and our partnership with SAP has lasted already over 20 years. We continually invest in our SAP capability and have reached many significant milestones. We have conducted our own product development to enable value add ERP transformation – Tieto Core for SAP S/4HANA offers the best practises and standard processes to achieve digital change with SAP technology.

Tieto SAP operations in a nutshell:  

  • We are one of the leading SAP service providers in the Nordic region
  • We have gold level certificate in SAP Application Lifecycle Management
  • We managed the first SAP S/4HANA implementation in the Nordics
  • Over 700 SAP consultants
  • Over 200 SAP clients
  • Tieto was included in Gartner's SAP application services Magic Quadrant in EMEA (2017)

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