Creating an Agile Center of Excellence
Why you might need an Agile Center of Excellence (CoE)

Why you might need an Agile Center of Excellence (CoE)

Adopting, continuously improving, and scaling agile requires strategy and support by a centralized leadership team that promotes collaboration and uses best practices around the agile transformation across an enterprise.

After an Agile transformation many organizations may label themselves as being Agile, but oftentimes a closer look reveals that the company's operations may be Agile in name only. Furthermore, the transformation is often focused at the scrum team level with little agile transformation at the program and portfolio levels of the organization. An Agile CoE can help you sustain the momentum of your transformation efforts, so that the entire organization realizes the benefits of lean and agile principles and practices effectively scaled throughout business and operations.

You might need an Agile CoE if you have issues such as:

  • People
    • No standardized training for Agile fundamentals.
    • Essential Agile/Scrum ceremonies are not being held or adhered to.
    • No central resource for teams to refer to for help and guidance.
  • Processes
    • Current efforts are no more than mini-time-boxed waterfall phases.
    • No common tool usage - along with encouraging common tool usage, the CoE can make education available to facilitate effective tool usage.
    • No overarching vision for Agile across teams which lead to confusion.
  • Practices
    • Many of the Agile practices are not addressed such as continuous integration, automated testing, TDD, or ATDD, to name a few.
    • Lack of common tool usage is a high impediment and leads to a variety of issues.
  • Portfolios, Programs, and Projects
    • No criteria to determine when a project should use Agile methodologies.
    • Little to no cross project/division communication and collaboration on Agile Projects.
    • General perception that by claiming an application is developed using Agile that it wards off any need for documentation or for pre-deployment testing/inspection.I In reality, developing an application using Agile does not relieve the need to meet regulatory requirements or make it less complicated to deploy as with traditional development.

What is an Agile CoE?

An Agile CoE provides:

  1. A gathering of thought leadership to support and maximize an Agile transformation investment,
  2. agile process and practice innovations to be shared and scaled throughout the enterprise,
  3. support for strategic enterprise goals and specific program/project goals, and
  4. a focus on people and their work in the agile ecosystem.

A desire to support, to sustain, and to scale agile work and behaviors should be the primary motivation for creating an Agile CoE and should serve as the foundation for its creation.

An Agile CoE increases the long-term effectiveness of adopting and scaling agile methodologies. Because very few organizations are able to support a fully functioning Agile CoE at the start of a lean, agile or other organizational improvement program, most start by deploying a steering committee and getting help with training and mentoring from experienced agile transformation and coaching experts to grow it through a maturity cycle into a full-fledged effective Agile CoE.

Growing an Agile CoE

Consider creating an Agile CoE to enhance and scale capabilities in applying Agile processes and practices to deliver business value when strategic objectives or critical capabilities in an enterprise require ongoing focus and specialty skills. Growing an Agile CoE from scratch cannot happen overnight. The following steps can initiate the Agile CoE:

  • Gain support at the right level with a focus on delivering value
  • Identify people for leadership and other key roles that are passionate about deepening their skills and delivering results using them
  • Document and share skills and methods; get training and mentoring where skills fall short
  • Apply the skills in pilot projects that are important to the enterprise while mentoring others to expand the capabilities
  • Put in place output measures that track results delivered
  • Formalize the team, integrate it with strategic planning, and expand it across the organization
  • Continue to improve, adapt, and advance capabilities

Initial Duration, Resources, and Key Activities

Initial Duration: 6-8 weeks
Resources: 1 Transformation Coach
Key Activities:

  • Establish Agile CoE (ACE) Charter
  • Create Communication Plan
  • Develop an Adoption strategy
  • Gather Metrics and Feedback
  • Report Progress
  • Identify improvement opportunities

Recommendations

Contact Icon Technology Consulting at (636) 530-7776 or info@iconatg.com. Gain access to Agile experts and ready-to-go material to support or sustain your agile adoption from training, tool expertise, and much more.