Over the years of working with clients who are exploring agile and Scrum, we find many ask the same questions about developing an agile transformation plan. They want to develop an initial plan for success with Agile and avoid some of the problems that teams encounter when taking on a change as big as an agile transformation.
To address this need and help clients think broadly about the change, we developed a checklist of things to consider when developing an agile transformation plan. The planning checklist is not intended to be exhaustive, but we believe that it includes the most common things to be considered when planning for Scrum Teams or an Agile Transformation.
Include These in Your Agile Transformation Plan
Organizational Change Management
- If asked, can we answer the question “Why Agile?” in a way that makes sense for everyone?
- Does everyone understand and agree on the reasons for moving to Agile?
- What do we hope to achieve by moving to Agile?
- What is our current performance level?
- What is the level of urgency for the change? Is it urgent enough? (For more details on this question and change management in general, see John Kotter’s 8 step Process Model for Change.)
Include these Experiments in Your Agile Transformation Plan
One of the most common experiments that organizations start with is an agile or Scrum pilot. The pilot is run to try agile out and to learn as much as possible. Things to consider when planning a pilot include:
- What are the best products or applications to start with?
- Based on the product, who is the best candidate for product owner?
- Can we put together a dedicated team, preferably co-located, where we can run several sprints to try the Scrum Framework?
- What is the release cycle for this application or product? When can we kick off the initiative?
Scrum Team Formation
Questions in this area revolve around forming dedicated and cross-functional Scrum teams. Since most organizations are in functional departments, forming a team that is self-organizing and cross-functional can stir up issues of power and control in the organization.
- What is the value stream in our organization? What part of the value stream could we give to one Scrum team without having a handoff before or after the Scrum Team does their work.
- What are the skills needed on the team to enable the team to take backlog items all the way to done?
- Will it be possible to create completely co-located teams? If not, can we at least create teams in the same time zone? (see also 5 Questions to Ask When Forming Teams)
Physical Environment, Infrastructure, and Tools
- Evaluate the ability for the team to sit together in one room. [See these posts about the importance of co-locating teams and avoiding distributed teams.]
- Which tools (including automation) will they need to successfully deliver working software in a two or three-week sprint?
Knowledge/Skills Assessment and Development Plan
- What skills gaps will we have on the team and do we have a plan for cross-training and knowledge transfer? [See this post on cross-functional teams]
- How will we address Agile and Scrum training? (See also Develop Your Agile Training Plan)
- What level of Agile coaching will be required?
Organizational Environment Assessment
- How receptive is the environment to Agile and Scrum?
- Does the organization invest in automation to help teams delivery high quality solutions consistently?
- What can be done now to reduce or eliminate unnecessary governance or documentation that will impede the team?
If you find yourself considering a waterfall to Agile Transformation, you may find this free downloadable checklist a handy reference of things to be considered.
Let me know if you have feedback or additional items that should be added to the list.
For more resources on Agile Transformation, please visit our Agile Transformation Consulting page.