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Amplify and Expand Agile Team Success

Part 2: Foster Cross-Team Collaboration, Visualize Processes, Harmonize with Finance, and Set the Stage for Lean Portfolio Management

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How do you build a company-wide system that empowers every Agile team in your organization? Anyone can scale Agile, but it takes a true leader to build the framework that actually amplifies Agile’s benefits so that everyone is working cohesively to deliver innovation and continuous improvement.

In this blog, we’re going to look at the steps you need to take to build an Agile organization that actually works. Let’s get started. If you haven’t already, read part one of this blog series: Effectively Amplify the Benefits of Agile in Your Organization.

Build a Culture That Prioritizes Coordination and Cross-team Collaboration

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: departmental silos are the death of meaningful collaboration. They encourage teams to hoard data and focus on their own objectives, rather than working toward the betterment of the organization. A siloed team is not an Agile team, because the us-versus-them mindset simply cannot exist under the Agile approach.

With that said, there are a couple of reasons teams tend to work in silos:

  • It’s comfortable for them to focus only on the needs and expectations of their group
  • It’s natural for most people to look at their immediate challenges without thinking about the entire organization, and the role their tasks play in the greater scheme of things

Because of this, getting multiple teams to work together in unison is one of the most challenging initiatives you’ll undertake. But under scaled Agile, it’s a necessary initiative if you want to ensure each team is working to fulfill the company’s broader goals without suppressing the unique elements that make each individual team successful.

So, how can you create this culture?

It starts with looking at the big picture, which you can do by receiving consistent feedback from stakeholders across different levels in your organization. They can keep you up to date on:

  • Priority shifts
  • Status updates
  • Conflicts with allocated resources
  • Technology and application
  • Status updates and more

With this information readily at your disposal, you’re better informed about where the project is headed, where it needs to go, and what roadblocks stand in its way. From there, you can communicate with all the necessary teams to ensure their strategies align with the stakeholders’ expectations.

But that’s not all. As the Agile leader, you need to help deliver coordination between the various Agile teams within your organization. This requires establishing a common planning cadence between the teams, where they share information between departments and plan together in order to prevent future disruptions.

Processes Should Be Transparent Across Teams

Want to create a system that empowers every Agile team in your organization? You’ll need to remove any traces of opacity in your workflow to understand the progress of each team.

Successful cross-team collaboration needs transparency. Everyone needs to know who’s working on what task and why. Without this level of transparency, it’ll be impossible to plan and coordinate tasks between teams, as there’s no viable way to accurately track processes as they move through the workflow.

The easiest way to deliver transparency is with scaled Kanban. Digital Kanban boards make it easy to connect with all your teams under one roof. You can monitor the progress of your Agile teams in real-time, seeing what they’re working on and how those processes are moving down the workflow.

Essential for optimizing the flow of value within your organization, Kanban enhances communication while making it easier for leaders to track various Lean metrics associated with delivery and continuous improvement. That way, you’re more likely to make accurate predictions about the future performance of your various teams.

Amplify and Expand Agile Team Success Whitepaper

Coordinate with Your Finance Department

One of the most important things to keep in mind when scaling Agile is providing flexibility. There’s no standardized way to implement Agile across your teams. That’s because different teams have different needs—and some departments aren’t even suited for Agile in the first place.

Finance is one of these departments. Their responsibility is to ensure that your company’s financial assets are being allocated and used effectively. As such, the nature of their job doesn’t necessarily align with Agile and Lean methods. But that doesn’t mean your finance department can’t coordinate with Agile teams.

How do you coordinate with your finance department, anyway?

The key is finding a common ground so that your project goals and the goals of your finance department are aligned. One way you can do this is by assessing the level of cost control and management, so that you’re able to accurately allocate resources based on shareholder expectation and the guidelines laid out by the finance department. Other than that, be sure to keep an open channel of communication with finance at all times. By doing so, you can be sure that everyone’s on the same page regarding the direction of your projects and your Agile initiatives.

Lay the Groundwork for Lean Portfolio Management

Amplifying the effectiveness of every Agile team within your organization isn’t a one-person job facilitated by the Agile leader. It’s a complex operation that requires enterprise-wide participation from all individuals and teams across every level in the company. It requires everyone to contribute, in one way or another, to helping the organization drive innovation and reach continuous improvement.

Sounds like an insurmountable task, doesn’t it? The good news is that you can put this system in place using Lean Portfolio Management. Lean Portfolio Management applies Lean strategy and execution to:

  • Strategic and investment funding
  • Agile operations
  • Lean governance

Its aim is to optimize capacity, reduce risk, and ensure that all levels of your organization are working together to push the company forward through continuous improvement.

Lean Portfolio Management is arguably one of the most essential pieces of the scaled Agile puzzle. It makes it easier to communicate and track teams while keeping up with the fast pace of modern business. That way, you and every team in your organization can ensure Agile delivery supports the strategic objectives of your organization. Read the Lean Portfolio Management for the Enterprise whitepaper to learn more and to take a deeper dive into the subject.

Taking the Next Step

Ready to empower every Agile team within your organization? You can start by implementing the practices we’ve covered in this blog. You should also look for a technology partner that has the expertise and flexibility necessary to build a custom-tailored solution that amplifies your organizational transformation.

With the right Lean and Agile management tools at your disposal, you can remove the barriers preventing you from connecting teams and facilitating meaningful collaboration. And, with those barriers out of the way, you can start building the framework that promotes Agility throughout your organization.

Want to learn more about expanding Agile across your organization? Download our free Whitepaper on promoting cross-team coordination and scaling delivery. There, you’ll gain deeper insight into the various challenges and solutions associated with scaled Agile.

Lean Portfolio Management for the Enterprise Whitepaper

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Leyna O’Quinn
Written By

Leyna O’Quinn is a Certified Scrum Master and Certified SAFe Agilist. She has been managing the Planview blog strategy for more than 7 years. She writes about portfolio and resource management, Lean and Agile delivery, project collaboration, innovation management, and enterprise architecture. She has more than 15 years of experience writing about technology, industry trends, and best practices. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Marketing.