You’ve probably heard: Agile isn’t just for software development anymore. More and more organizations are embracing Agile practices enterprise-wide as a way to increase responsiveness and deliver value faster. Executives are looking to Agile — specifically, enterprise Agile planning — to fuel strategic, sustainable growth.
As Agile becomes more mainstream, there’s an emerging need for a tool that can meet the needs of every level and function of the modern enterprise — not just the IT organization.
The enterprise Agile planning tool of the future is equipped to facilitate coordination and collaboration between technical and business functions alike. It provides strategic visibility and insight across the entire value chain, empowering business leaders with the data-driven insights they need to make more informed decisions. It is lightweight, flexible, and fits your company’s evolving culture.
Read to learn the trends shaping the adoption of enterprise Agile, and what to consider when choosing a tool to enable your Agile transformation at scale.
5 Trends to Watch in Enterprise Agile Planning
In the 2017 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Agile Planning tools, Gartner states that Agile adoption is becoming mainstream. As Agile’s influence spreads across the enterprise, organizations are searching for tools with strategic planning capabilities to bridge the gap with team-level work management tools.
This is further reinforced by the increasing implementation of frameworks that enable enterprise-wide Agile, such as the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), that emphasize the need to ensure that all levels of the organization are aligned. Enterprise Agile planning tools are emerging as the solution that can enable large-scale Agile adoption by providing a single, inter-connected platform to accelerate delivery processes and drive better business outcomes.
Growing Influence of Lean Principles
Many organizations undergoing widespread Agile implementations have realized the benefit of incorporating Lean management principles into their practices. Agile principles were designed for optimizing delivery at the team level; Lean thinking elevates these principles to meet the needs of the modern enterprise, encouraging organizations to focus on optimizing the entire value delivery system.
Harnessing the strengths of Lean and Agile concepts enables organizations to focus on the things that matter most to customers: innovation, quality, and speed of value delivery.
Rise of Kanban as Agile Methodology
As Agile spreads into disciplines outside of software development, non-technical teams are searching for a flexible, lightweight way to visually manage their work. Popular Agile methods, such as Scrum, that are designed around time-boxed iterations, often don’t translate well into other disciplines of knowledge work.
Enter: Kanban. Kanban can be used by any team doing any type of work, managing any type of process. It’s being embraced as a flexible, flow-based workflow method that harnesses the power of visualization, and enables better collaboration and coordination across teams. Kanban encourages an evolutionary approach that starts with what you do now and enables continuous improvement over time.
Perhaps this is why 83% of respondents in the Lean Business Report, and 71% of users surveyed by Gartner,¹ reported using Kanban to practice Lean/Agile principles at scale. The inclusion of Kanban in frameworks such as SAFe 4.0 further validates the role of Kanban as a key driver of business agility.
Lean-Agile Portfolio Planning and Management
The widespread implementation of Agile at the team level is fundamentally changing the way organizations plan and manage work at the portfolio level. For Agile teams to be successful, a disciplined approach to project intake and prioritization is required along with new techniques to track and measure portfolio health.
Enterprise Agile planning tools need to enable comprehensive planning in a way that is responsive to the conditions of the value delivery system and keeps strategy aligned with execution throughout the delivery process. As top-down adoption of Agile transformation initiatives increase, ensuring that leaders have the insights they need to make smarter decisions more quickly is essential to support Agile teams.
Increasing Adoption of DevOps
As organizations search for ways to provide greater business value from IT, many are turning to DevOps as a way to promote better collaboration, communication, and transparency across the value stream.
The PuppetLabs annual State of DevOps Report has confirmed over and over: Teams who adopt DevOps practices experience not only improved quality, stability, and business outcomes, but also meaningful improvements in organizational culture that boost employee engagement and reduce turnover rates.
Gartner predicts that by 2020, enterprise Agile planning tools will become the foundation of DevOps toolchains.¹ Successful tools will provide visibility into the entire process — from planning to deployment — involved in the creation of product solutions.
The Future of Enterprise Agile Tools
To address the changing needs of teams and organizations, many companies have adopted a fragmented tool strategy that typically includes a mix of tools for Agile project tracking, ADLM, DevOps, continuous delivery, and more. This has unwittingly created an incoherent tool chain that reinforces harmful functional silos and makes it difficult to facilitate accountability, communication, and coordination across the organization.
Given the role that Application Development Lifecycle Management (ADLM) suites have played thus far in enabling the adoption of Agile in software development, it’s not surprising that the industry is looking at these tools to enable enterprise agility at scale; however, using ADLM tools outside of IT presents a few challenges.
While they do provide Agile project management capabilities, ADLM tools are most effective where they were initially designed to work: coordinating software development activities. Furthermore, business leaders and stakeholders often struggle to get the roll-up status and project health information they need to make portfolio-level decisions. To keep your organization aligned and on target, it’s critical to find an enterprise Agile planning tool that will connect the dots across all levels of the business by augmenting your existing tool chain with true enterprise Agile planning capabilities.
What to Look For
Here are some considerations to think about when choosing an enterprise Agile planning tool:
- Built for Lean-Agile: If you’re committed to implementing Lean-Agile principles across your organization, you’ll need a tool that is purpose-built for the job. Many Agile project management tools are designed to support Scrum, which can be challenging for teams outside of software development to use given the technical nature and process-specific purpose they were built for.
- Flexible and Lightweight: Enterprise agility demands a tool that doesn’t get in the way and slow your organization down. Be sure to pick a tool that is easy to administer and has the innate flexibility to evolve as your needs change. Your tool should have the ability to support any process or framework without constraining the way your teams work.
- Strategic Visibility: Business leaders need clear insights into the health of project portfolios without being mired with the technical details. Choose a tool that provides the right level of visibility and detail at all levels of the organization so that everyone can make more informed decisions with the right context.
- Support for the Entire Value Chain: Creating a consistent, sustainable flow of value through the organization is essential to optimizing your delivery speed. You’ll need a tool that provides end-to-end visibility across the entire value stream, enabling you to bridge the gap between different business functions, while still generating data for portfolio-level visibility. This can be accomplished by layering Lean-Agile workflow capabilities over your team-level tools via integrations.
- Analytics and Reporting: You’ll need actionable metrics to help you understand the performance of your delivery system, maximize your value throughput and meet commitments on all levels of the organization. The tool you pick should enable you to measure and monitor your organizational delivery trends, providing you with leading indicators you need to help you focus on achieving your desired business outcomes.
The tool you choose should have the scalability and versatility to meet your company’s unique needs. Consider what it takes to build and sustain a Lean-Agile transformation in your organization, and pick a tool that can truly enable your success.
Schedule a demo to discuss your enterprise Agile planning needs and see if LeanKit is right for you.
¹Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Agile Planning Tools” by Thomas E. Murphy, Mike West, Keith James Mann, April 27, 2017.
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