Types of Agile Delivery Models – No One Size fits all
As the business landscape continues to evolve in an increasingly digitized world, organizations are continually seeking innovative methods to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness. The field of project management has not been left behind. Here, traditional models have been gradually overtaken by more dynamic, flexible, and iterative methods such as Agile, SAFe, and LeSS.
These models are all part of an approach called Agile Delivery, aimed at promoting adaptability, collaboration, and customer satisfaction. While they share common values, they differ in their structure, scalability, and implementation strategies. This article will delve into each of these methodologies, their pros and cons, and how to transition from a project to a product management mindset.
Have you ever been in a situation where you delivered a transformative project after 18 months of hard work, just to find out that requirements and stakeholders have changed.
The new stakeholder then asks: “Why did we do this? This is not what I was asking for”
Agile aims to fix that with continuous feedback cycles
When I took agile Scrum Alliance Cal-O and Cal-E training with Michael Sahota he broke down the differences regarding waterfall and agile like this – sometimes seeing a picture speaks more than words:
Agile Delivery is a project management philosophy that encourages flexibility, customer collaboration, and regular adaptation to change. It’s about delivering value to the customer in small, incremental stages rather than delivering a whole product at once at the end of the project.
- Agile is highly adaptable to changing circumstances.
- It delivers value to the customer incrementally and continuously.
- It emphasizes collaboration between cross-functional teams.
- Enables customer feedback and involvement throughout the process.
- It may be hard to predict timelines and budget due to its flexibility.
- Agile might not be suitable for projects with well-defined requirements and little expected change.
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)
SAFe is a set of organization and workflow patterns designed to guide enterprises in scaling lean and agile practices. It’s a framework for large-scale, complex systems that require hundreds or even thousands of people.
- SAFe ensures that alignment and execution occur at all levels in the organization.
- It offers a clear and detailed method for scaling agile practices.
- It fosters collaboration across large organizations.
- Implementing SAFe can be complex due to its extensive set of practices and principles.
- It may be perceived as overly prescriptive and rigid.
Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS)
LeSS is a framework that extends Scrum to allow it to scale to large and huge products or systems. It follows the same principles of Scrum but applies them on a larger scale.
- LeSS promotes multi-team collaboration and self-organization.
- It scales Scrum in a straightforward way by minimizing roles, artifacts, and meetings.
- LeSS encourages the use of feature teams over component teams, leading to faster and more customer-focused development.
- Implementing LeSS requires a significant shift in mindset, which could be challenging for some organizations.
- LeSS might not be suitable for projects that don’t align with the principles of Scrum.
Integrating Agile methodologies into traditional Waterfall project management approaches is a process known as “Water-Scrum-Fall” or “Hybrid Agile.” It’s a transitional strategy for organizations looking to gradually adopt Agile practices without completely overhauling their existing Waterfall approach. Here’s how to go about it:
- Project Planning & Requirements Gathering:
The initial phases of the project can still follow the traditional Waterfall model, where you gather and document all project requirements and create a comprehensive project plan. This process involves detailing the project scope, timelines, and resources needed.
- Implementation Phase:
This is where Agile practices come into play. Instead of building the entire product at once as per the Waterfall model, you can divide the implementation phase into several iterations or “sprints” as in Scrum. Each sprint should result in a usable segment of the product that can be reviewed, tested, and approved by the stakeholders.
- Testing & Deployment:
Conduct testing and deployment for each sprint, allowing for real-time feedback and adjustments before the next sprint begins. This step combines the Agile practice of iterative development and testing with the Waterfall practice of rigorous testing after each major step.
- Post-Project Review:
At the end of the project, conduct a review or retrospective to evaluate what went well and what can be improved in the future. This is a key Agile practice that promotes continuous learning and improvement.
In summary, the Waterfall phase includes the project’s strategic planning, while the Agile phase is the tactical execution. There are significant benefits to this hybrid approach:
- Leverage Strengths:
It allows an organization to leverage the strengths of both methodologies— the structure and clarity of Waterfall, and the flexibility and customer focus of Agile.
- Gradual Transition:
It provides a way for organizations to gradually transition to Agile without disrupting established processes and structures.
- Risk Reduction:
By breaking down the development process into smaller, manageable sprints, teams can identify and address issues early on, thereby reducing the risk of project failure.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a transitional strategy. The ultimate goal should be to fully embrace Agile, as it provides the adaptability and responsiveness necessary to thrive in today’s fast-paced, customer-centric business environment.
Here is a table comparing these 4 methods:
|Agile||Highly adaptable, Customer-oriented, Promotes collaboration||Hard to predict timelines and budget, May not be suitable for certain projects|
|SAFe||Ensures alignment, Detailed method for scaling agile, Fosters large-scale collaboration||Complex to implement, May be overly prescriptive|
|LeSS||Promotes large-scale collaboration and self-organization, Scales Scrum simply and effectively||Requires a significant shift in mindset, May not suit all project types|
|Hybrid Agile (Water-Scrum-Fall)||Leverages strengths of Waterfall and Agile, Provides a gradual transition, Reduces project risk||Can create confusion without clear boundaries and understanding, May lead to process inefficiencies if not properly managed|
Transitioning from a project to a product management mindset is a fundamental step towards becoming an Agile Delivery organization. This involves moving from delivering projects to delivering value through continuous development and enhancement of a product. It requires a focus on delivering what the customer wants and needs, rather than merely completing a project on time and within budget.
The following steps can guide an organization in making this transition:
- Understand the Difference:
The first step is to understand the difference between project and product management. While project management is deadline-focused, product management is customer-focused.
- Educate the Team:
Share the concept and benefits of product management with the team. Highlight the importance of customer satisfaction and iterative improvement.
- Implement Agile Practices:
Start by implementing agile practices at the team level. Gradually extend these practices to larger units within the organization.
- Redefine Roles:
Change the roles within the team to match the product management mindset. This could mean transitioning project managers to product owners or product managers.
- Measure Success Differently:
Rather than measuring success by deadlines and budgets, measure it by customer satisfaction and product value.
- Continuous Improvement:
Once the transition has been made, continue to refine and improve processes, keeping in line with the principles of Agile Delivery.
Continuous Delivery Pipeline: Revolutionizing Software Delivery
A critical component in achieving agility is the concept of a Continuous Delivery Pipeline (CDP). The pipeline is a set of practices that enable application teams to deliver code changes more frequently and reliably, thereby facilitating faster user feedback and reducing time to market. The CDP involves three main stages: Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment.
- Continuous Integration:
This involves developers merging their changes back to the main branch as often as possible, at least once per day. The objective is to prevent integration problems, commonly known as “integration hell.” An automated build verifies each integration.
- Continuous Delivery:
In this stage, all code changes are automatically built, tested, and prepared for a release to production. The key goal is to enable a codebase to be deployable at any given point in time.
- Continuous Deployment:
This is the final stage, wherein every change that passes the automated tests is automatically deployed to production without human intervention. This ensures rapid delivery of features and bug fixes to users.
Implementing Continuous Delivery Pipeline
Implementing a Continuous Delivery Pipeline into an existing delivery methodology might seem challenging, but it can be accomplished through the following steps:
- Assess Current State:
Understand the existing software delivery process in detail. Identify bottlenecks, points of failure, and areas of improvement.
- Define the Pipeline:
Outline the stages of your delivery pipeline. For most teams, this will include Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and potentially Continuous Deployment.
- Automate Everything:
Invest in automation tools to streamline the process. Automated build, testing, and deployment tools are essential to make your pipeline efficient and reliable.
- Implement in Phases:
Start with continuous integration, ensure it’s working properly, then move on to continuous delivery and finally to continuous deployment.
- Cultivate a Culture of Collaboration:
A successful pipeline requires close collaboration between all involved parties – developers, testers, operations, and others. Foster a culture that encourages frequent communication and knowledge sharing.
- Monitor, Learn and Adapt:
Once the pipeline is in place, continuously monitor the process, collect data, and look for opportunities to improve.
The Continuous Delivery Pipeline empowers organizations to deliver software more swiftly and reliably. It facilitates a faster feedback loop with users, thereby enabling teams to quickly detect and rectify issues, improve quality, and increase user satisfaction. Implementing a CDP can thus significantly enhance the agility and responsiveness of an organization’s delivery process.
The CDO TIMES Bottom Line:
In conclusion, Agile, SAFe, LeSS, and Hybrid Agile are transformative methods that can significantly enhance the efficiency, flexibility, and customer-orientation of project management in organizations. Transitioning to these methods requires understanding, preparation, and a shift in mindset, but the results are well worth the effort.
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