@Scale the AgileCraft Blog

The Best of 2018 Predictions on Digital Transformation

Posted by Steve Elliott on Feb 15, 2018 1:09:29 PM

Now that January is behind us and I have been able to read up on all the latest predictions for digital transformation in 2018, I wanted to highlight some of my favorites that resonated with me and I think they will resonate with you also.

  1. By the End of 2019, DX Spending Will Reach $1.7 Trillion Worldwide, a 42% Increase from 2017 –IDC Top 10 Worldwide Digital Transformation (DX) Predictions
  2. By 2019, All Digitally Transformed Organizations Will Generate at Least 45% of Their Revenue from "Future of Commerce" Business Models -  IDC Top 10 Worldwide Digital Transformation (DX) Predictions
  3. 20% of CEOs will fail to act: As a result, those firms will be acquired or begin to perish. –Forrester 2018 Predictions – A Year of Reckoning
  4. By 2020, five of the top seven digital giants will willfully "self-disrupt" to create their next leadership opportunity. Gartner Top Strategic Predictions for 2018 and Beyond/ Pace Yourself, for Sanity's Sake
  5. Individuals are increasingly asserting their desire to communicate and collaborate however they want, using their choice of tools. Employees ─ particularly millennials don’t just prefer to use their own devices, they also want to use their own applications. –Dimension Data Top IT Trends for 2018: digital workplaces
  6. Digital disruptions … show no sign of being reduced in frequency or impact. Instead, those who seek value from technology-based options must move faster as their bimodal IT efforts move into high gear. –  Gartner Top Strategic Predictions for 2018 and Beyond/ Pace Yourself, for Sanity's Sake
  7. Over the next 18 to 24 months, we will likely see CIOs begin reengineering not only their IT shops but, more broadly, their approaches to technology. – Deloitte Insights Tech Trends 2018 -  The symphonic enterprise
  8. By 2020, we expect that the ‘new normal’ operating model will be customer- and context-cantered. That is, companies will change the way they interact with their customers based on the context of the exchange. They will offer a seamless omnichannel experience, through a smart balance of human and machines.- Financial services technology 2020 and beyond: Embracing disruption
  9. Seventy percent of healthcare companies are looking to digitize their operations in order to facilitate growth. While healthcare organizations see the value of digitalization, just 3 percent have completed digital transformations across their enterprises, while 54 percent of the organizations are testing or piloting digital transformation programs. - SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: “4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart"
  10. And one last one from me - 2018 will be the first year AI is truly harnessed in large scale enterprises to optimize software delivery and accelerate digital transformation.  

Hear more about AgileCraft’s adoption of Artificial Intelligence in our latest press release on our mission to optimize enterprise agility with machine learning.

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Topics: Scaled Agile, capacity planning, Enterprise Scaled Agile, Digital transformation, Agile, ROI, CIO, Fintech

Scaling Agile with JIRA Plugins: the 1968 Alfa Romeo Solution to Scale

Posted by Steve Elliott on Jan 31, 2018 4:55:46 PM

It’s like that time you saw that gorgeous 1968 Alfa Romeo Giulietta for sale on Craigslist – truly a thing of beauty, with all the bells and whistles one could want. It even has a brand-new paint job, new aftermarket headlights, and a cool new stereo. The owner is selling it for dirt cheap, and insists it’s ready to go, . It’s like the mythical Craig of Craigslist crawled right in your head, figured out your dream car and plopped it right into your search results. Excitedly, you mention it to your favorite uncle, who happens to be a very smart, old school auto mechanic.

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Topics: Scaled Agile, Agile Metrics & Measurement, capacity planning, Enterprise Scaled Agile, Digital transformation, Agile, atlassian, ROI, JIRA

Principal Financial Group – Leading the Way!

Posted by Steve Elliott on Jun 30, 2016 10:42:07 AM


I recently caught the new article in CIO magazine on how Principal Financial Group made the leap to transform their organization to Agile for digital development. [i] First of all, kudos to the Principal Financial team for recognizing the importance of switching from Waterfall to Agile development.  For a company with over 2,600 IT professionals just making that decision to begin the transformation is a significant accomplishment. 

As shared in the article, Principal realized that in order to deliver what their insurance, retirement planning and asset management customers needed, they couldn’t continue to follow the Waterfall path any longer. Instead of waiting for the “perfect app” to be produced, they made the decision that Agile was the only clear path forward. Principal didn’t just transform their processes to improve overall productivity, they went all in. They implemented hackathons to kick start new projects, shifted to bi-weekly sprints instead of every other month meetings, implemented new tools to help accelerate the transformation and even reconfigured their office space to promote collaboration among IT.

With the rich advantages of implementing an Agile workplace like faster feedback cycles, problems identified earlier on, higher potential for customer satisfaction, faster time to market and more, I am still surprised how often I encounter a large enterprise that is hesitant to go all in with Agile.

Principal is leading the way by aligning corporate strategy with the execution of the development teams to drive strategic value. The Principal team didn’t stop there; they go well beyond that. Not only do they understand the importance of leveraging Agile principles, but they also clearly understand the critical need to supplement Agile execution of the teams with effective management/oversight/rollups at the Program, Portfolio and Enterprise levels. 

Here is the realization that every large enterprise will reach sooner or later… You, Company XYZ, are now a software company.  Embrace this and vow to be excellent at building software or risk letting others gain the competitive advantage.

A quote shared in the article from Principal CIO Gary Scholten summed it up best. "I don't know how you could be successful in the digital world in waterfall." We don’t either.

At AgileCraft, we deliver the most comprehensive software solution available for scaling agile to the enterprise. AgileCraft transforms the way organizations enable and manage agile productivity across their enterprise, portfolios, programs, and teams by aligning business strategy with technical execution. To find out more visit us at www.agilecraft.com or follow us on twitter @theagilecraft or download our latest whitepaper An Insider's Perspective: Bank of America


[i] http://www.cio.com/article/3088136/agile-development/financial-services-firm-adopts-agile-for-digital-development.html







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Topics: Scaled Agile, Enterprise Scaled Agile, Digital transformation, Waterfall, Innovation, Agile, Software Development

Don’t get Stuck in the 80s (Hair Bands Excluded)

Posted by Steve Elliott on Jun 15, 2016 9:52:51 AM




The 80s were a big deal to my generation.  The 80s shaped my earliest memories.  I cherish the dawn of the personal computer, video games, hair bands, rap, break dancing and so much more from back in the day.  In terms of how to drive culture I have held on to literally nothing that was embraced in the 80s.  For culture I look to the last 15 years of innovation for inspiration.    

In terms of management culture what has changed since the 80s?  Just about everything.  In addition to the changes with the attitude of a servant leader, middle management’s role in development, self-organizing and rewarding teams versus individuals … a culture of continuous measurement with rapid feedback loops to adjust the plan for maximum results also has a significant impact on culture.  This is especially true when turned inward to the employees of an organization.

Did you know that John Deere measures employee engagement and morale every two weeks?[1] A company that achieved earnings of $1.94 billion in 2015 reaches back into their immense employee base every two weeks. That’s 26 times per year they are successfully conducting employee engagement surveys. So you may be wondering why such an intense focus on the employees every 2 weeks?

The reason …happy employees make happy customers. Employee measurement is the easy part, but that raises the next question: how do you create happy employees? The answer in my view is to implement an Agile methodology and mindset.

So, how does that translate into happy employees and a great culture? Imagine if you were working on an assembly line and you never got to see what the final product was. Day after day you did your part and completed your part of the task. Six, nine or even twelve months later, you were still working on the same product.  You didn’t know what others were doing and you didn’t think the broader company was aware of your efforts. Yes, you may have been rewarded for your efforts along the way, but don’t you want to see the final product? The fruits of your labor? Well that’s were Agile changes the game.

In Agile, “The highest priority is to satisfy the customer”.[2]  Agile is worth the price of admission because it enables companies to drive better results. Agile allows for increased flexibility, which enables teams to better react and meet their customer’s needs.  To leverage a famously overused cliché from Walter Gretzky (Wayne’s Dad), companies want to “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”

Agile generates increased visibility of IT led activities within an enterprise. It creates an environment that promotes an inclusive culture through collaboration.  This results in a culture that not only requests, but welcomes inputs into projects from all business units within an enterprise.  Agile done right creates a culture that allows for experimenting and more importantly, collaboration.

Unlike other methodologies that rely on a project plan with features and goals set at the beginning of a project, Agile follows an incremental, iterative path. Agile allows for changing requirements over time. Based upon early and often feedback, the team can determine if they are headed in the wrong direction and quickly pivot. This results in eliminating the development of features that customers no longer need or want, while also eliminating the frustration within the development team.

By living and breathing in an Agile World, enterprises are more productive, able to respond and react to customer’s requests, increase internal visibility, and improve employee engagement and satisfaction. Ultimately, it results in happy employees.

So whether you refer to it as a mindset or a methodology, we all understand moving to an Agile environment isn’t easy and it isn’t a magic bullet. When your enterprise makes the decision to embrace Agile, the benefits reach farther than just the technology; it reaches to the people and ultimately the culture as well.

So put on a good hair band, grab a big white board and then design your internal feedback loops for a better culture.  Just remember to iterate on your internal process frequently and be relentlessly repetitive with messaging to the entire organization the benefits of a lean / Agile culture.  The result is a highly transparent culture that is always on the lookout for ways to better engage the team and by extension the customer.

At AgileCraft, we deliver the most comprehensive software solution available for scaling agile to the enterprise. AgileCraft transforms the way organizations enable and manage agile productivity across their enterprise, portfolios, programs, and teams by aligning business strategy with technical execution. To find out more visit us at www.agilecraft.com or follow us on twitter @theagilecraft or download our latest whitepaper An Insider's Perspective: Bank of America


[1] https://hbr.org/2016/05/why-john-deere-measures-employee-morale-every-two-weeks

[2] https://www.Agilealliance.org/Agile101/12-principles-behind-the-Agile-manifesto/




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Topics: Bi-Modal, SAFe 4.0, Enterprise Scaled Agile, Culture

Agile vs. Waterfall – It’s Debate Season Again

Posted by Steve Elliott on May 18, 2016 8:36:00 AM

Agile vs. Waterfall – It’s Debate Season Again

My view is we can declare the debate between Agile vs. Waterfall over, but before we do, let me attempt to make the case. Late last year, Gartner released a report highlighting the need for CIOs to embrace agile development along with a recommendation that IT leaders and executives adopt this methodology as quickly as possible.[i]  With many CIOs and IT leadership under intense pressure to support fast-evolving strategic transformations, companies are finding traditional project and software development methodologies unsuitable, according to Gartner. Enterprises are turning to Agile development to speed up projects and illustrate their value and companies that delay the decision are paying a big price in the market.

Technology leaders instinctively know that companies in the modern technology-driven era that are unable to drive a process that is built for rapid evolution will struggle to compete. So the why is well established but the how is still a little muddy for some.   The same driver that has been there for the last 20 years is still at play. The difference is the processes and tools to do agile at scale are now becoming main stream.

Let’s look at the two concepts one last time and discuss both approaches starting with the waterfall method.

Waterfall - The “Traditional” Methodology

Often called the traditional or classic approach – this method is linear and sequential. Waterfall is one in which each phase of a product’s life cycle takes place as part of a flow or a sequence of events. One step leads to another, hence the name Waterfall. Progress on one step needs to be completed before the next step or phase can begin. Once the concept is created it moves to design, then implementation and then further down the line until the product development cycle is completed.

In this method, all the planning is completed up front. All the requirements gathering, design work and more has to be completed before any development and coding begins. Once the project moves on from one stage to the other, there is no turning back.

Companies that followed the Waterfall methodology achieved these perceived benefits:

  1. Requires less coordination due to a stage-gated sequential processes
  2. Phase steps are clear since they are modeled and processed one at a time
  3. Cost of the project can be estimated after the requirements have been defined
  4. Better focus on documentation of designs and requirements
  5. Design phase is more methodical and structured before any software is written

Agile – A “Movement”, not just a Methodology

Agile evolved out of a variety of software philosophies to demonstrate alternatives to Waterfall. In early 2001, a group of software development practitioners discussed their shared ideas and various approaches to software development. This culminated in the introduction of Manifesto for Agile Software Development and the corresponding twelve principles. [ii]

Agile software development methodology is an approach that follows an incremental, iterative path. Unlike the Waterfall methodology, where extensive planning and design occurs up front, Agile methodology allows for changing requirements over time. A cross-functional team made up of designers, developers, testers and more focus on development of the product over a fixed period of time. This defined period of time is established by the team and usually lasts 2 – 4 weeks.

At the end of each iteration, the goal is to present a product to the business owners. The software is delivered incrementally over time instead of delivering one final product at the end. Each phase is a key part of a continuous process vs. a fixed step by step approach. With the Agile methodology, the focus is on consistent communication and short feedback loops. So, if a team is heading in the wrong direction, the feedback they receive will let them know right away vs. waiting until a lengthy development cycle is completed.

Agile provides the following perceived benefits:

  1. Faster Feedback Cycles
  2. Identifies problems early
  3. Higher potential for customer satisfaction
  4. Time to market is dramatically improved
  5. Better visibility / accountability
  6. Dedicated teams drive better productivity over time
  7. Flexible Prioritization focused on value delivery


 Which approach is better?

This question seems to never go away but the software world is finally turning the corner on the debate. Two truisms: Software Eating the World = TRUE and Agile is Eating Software = TRUE. There are cases for a slower and more stage gated process with some projects but for the vast majority agile is the future.

Blending the two worlds is important during the long transformation journey but the debate on the merits is clear. With the continuing need for enterprises to retain a competitive advantage in their market place, Agile is an established methodology allowing companies to drive better results (plain and simple).

Agile allows for increased flexibility, which enables teams to better react and meet their customer’s needs. Agile creates the ability for companies to capture maximum value for the dollar and avoid unnecessary overhead / budgetary spending.  

In the end, it comes down to enterprise business agility. What you call your software process / method is not the point. The point is your process had better be flexible enough to drive innovation and keep up with your market / your competitors or you may end up the Kodak, Circuit City or Blockbuster of the software world.

What’s next? Check back for part 2 of our series “We’ve decided to go agile, now what? Key steps to readiness”


[i] Gartner clients report "Ten Things the CIO Needs to Know About Agile Development."

[ii] Principles behind the Agile Manifesto http://www.agilemanifesto.org/principles.html

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Topics: Bi-Modal, SAFe 4.0, Strategic Planning, Enterprise Scaled Agile

Using Agile Based Strategic Planning Across Your Enterprise

Posted by Steve Elliott on Mar 11, 2016 5:00:00 PM


What does it mean to have an “Agile” strategic planning process?

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Topics: Bi-Modal, SAFe 4.0, Strategic Planning, Enterprise Scaled Agile