The Agile philosophy shapes the way most software is developed today. “Agile” refers to a way of working in which multiple small, cross-functional teams work in tandem to iteratively and incrementally deliver a product. These teams collocate and actively collaborate across internal and external divisions to deliver at speed. Many organizations have adopted a Distributed Agile approach in which team members are divided and collocated in two or three different offices. This has changed with the spread of COVID-19.
Now, with countries under lockdown (India, UK, US, Australia, France, Germany, Israel and Saudi Arabia, to name a few) and the need for social distancing, all businesses must maintain their productivity as employees work from home. Companies are being forced to change the way they engage with customers as well.
Analysts have confirmed that businesses that shift their technology capacity and investments to digital platforms will mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and keep their operations running smoothly. Organizations will increasingly concentrate on their offline-to-online technology journey while creating frictionless experiences for customers throughout the world.
To ensure effective Agile delivery in this environment, teams need to be even more responsive to changing client demands and empower employees to be productive working from 10 different home offices. We have long been strong proponents of a No-Shore model that enables teams to work effectively without physical borders. We call this “Agile Anywhere,” and it has significant advantages:
- There is greater skill availability due to accessibility from any location
- Team members can avoid travel / travel time in cities that are already bursting at the seams
- There is no threat to physical security due to team members staying late in an office to collaborate with members in opposite time zones
- There can be increased overlap hours
- Tools can be adopted with information radiators that reflect reality and a single version of the truth (rather than voluminous reports)
- There can be an increased work/life balance, leading to greater employee happiness
Wipro has used distributed delivery for more than a decade, but our Agile Anywhere framework enables other organizations to efficiently pivot to a new normal where processes, technologies and people practices come together for successful delivery. The framework looks at five key facets and calibrates the existing norms around Infrastructure, Technology-Enabled Engineering Agility, Continuous Flow Practices, Ways of Working, and Collaboration.
This framework helps by
- Increasing transparency, allowing for a single version of the truth. It also allows issues to be immediately highlighted and problems to be immediately identified.
- Providing Zero Touch execution reduces the dependence on individuals. Leveraging technology and systems to do common, repetitive tasks can also reduce the opportunity for errors and improve efficiency.
- Creating self-organized, empowered teams can improve cycle times by enabling them to take decisions without waiting for directions / approvals.
- And finally, increasing productivity through faster turnaround time and less time spent on wasteful activities.
The model can present some challenges. For example, there is a potential for data leaks if security controls are not installed and monitored, and there can be communication breakdowns if the infrastructure and network bandwidth among the team aren’t present. Similarly, team members may experience access issues from their telework locations if there is differentiated access to systems and tools between employees and partners, and a dispersed workforce may struggle to gather “just-in-time” information and suffer delays.
Fortunately, these challenges can be overcome by following a clear, well-planned strategy. Adopting the Agile Anywhere model is an easy three-step process and will help organizations quickly pivot.
In challenging economic times like those stemming from COVID-19, taking these steps to quickly pivot will be critical for organizations to remain viable and prepare themselves for an uncertain future.