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Executives holding Kiwi businesses back from being 'agile'

12 Oct 15

Executive leadership, or rather the lack of it, is preventing New Zealand businesses from planning and deploying Agile management methodologies within their organisations, according to a new survey involving Wellington based businesses.

Agile software development refers to methods for solutions that evolve through collaboration between self-organising and cross-functional teams.

It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, continuous improvement, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change, according to the Agile Alliance.

A recent survey conducted by Rally (now part of CA Technologies), shows more than half (56%) of Kiwi organisations believe the lack of top-down executive leadership and overall C-level engagement is plaguing current Agile plans.

At the same time, those individuals tasked with rolling out enterprise-scale Agile solutions face pressures beyond their own team to deliver transformation services.

Just under one in ten respondents (9%) claim that delivering Agile to the business beyond their own siloed department is a major issue.

On top of this, 11% said there are still cultural inhibitors and situations, such as those rolling out Agile not actually scoping out the process, are holding back a return to the business and represent a potential risk factor to ultimate project delivery success.

The lack of a sense of urgency, staff turnover and too many competing project deadlines were also cited as hindering aspects of Agile deployments.

"The research results show many departments are still challenged with major business issues when it comes to taking advantage of Agile," says Nat Tanner, Rally regional vice president for Australia and New Zealand.

“When you ask any systems designer, developer or CIO what their board wants, it’s odds-on that agility, a customer focus or empowerment, and a vague reference to ‘transformation’ will appear somewhere on the list,” she says.

“Like the '90s, when no marketer seemed able to communicate without using the phrase ‘paradigm shift’, these buzz words have become standard topics in business conversation.

“But, unlike much of the past use of ‘paradigm shift’, they aren't simply glib phrases.

“Agility, a customer focus and transformation are individual elements that, when combined, can greatly influence business performance,” says Tanner.

“However, while collaborative cultures can ultimately create stronger, more productive teams, the move to collaboration can sometimes be challenging.

“When organisations adopt Agile practices, a fundamental shift in culture is required.  

“It needs executive leadership, open communication and cross-departmental involvement.  

“Not only does this mean creating a project development plan and establishing methods of open communication but organisations also need to find a delicate balance between speed and minding the details,” Tanner says.

She says the survey results suggest that while Agile and lean development practices have empowered a new generation of developers, project managers and software companies to build ‘the right things’, the test now is for enterprises to ‘digest’ these products.

She says these products are those that businesses truly need and have an urgency to consume.

Rally conducted the survey of 79 senior IT decision makers within enterprise organisations at the AgileNZ conference staged in Wellington on 1-2 September 2015.

It reviewed the attitudes and experiences for Agile delivery among business analysts, Scrum managers, Agile coaches, senior developers, analyst programmers, consultants and developers in the current workplace environment.

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