The Importance of an Agile Business

An Essential to Bringing Your Modern Software Factory to Life

By: Ayman Sayed, President, Chief Product Officer at CA Technologies

Today, every company is a software company and to be competitive in today’s marketplace, companies need to deliver products and services faster and better than competitors. To achieve this, they must build a modern software factory that responds quickly and effectively to customer needs. The days of extended timelines from idea conception to completion are gone and now change happens quickly, forcing companies to adapt at the drop of a hat.

A Freeform Dynamics survey, commissioned by CA Technologies, of senior business and IT executives on how they are modernizing software strategies and practices to better compete in the app economy found that the top 25 percent (the “Masters”) embrace the key principles of agility, along with automation, insights and security. These companies are demonstrating superior business results with 70 percent higher profit growth and 50 percent higher revenue growth.

The survey further shows that 91 percent of the Masters are implementing agile practices widely and deeply across their organization. The ability to be agile, adapting quickly and responding fast to new and changing demands is imperative to modern software development and delivery. An agile environment allows organizations to respond to demand and pivot when needed. To do this, businesses must be able to build a stable foundation that becomes the anchor of the company while changes are happening.

There are a few things to consider when driving improved agility throughout an organization’s cultural shift:

Create a culture of trust and cooperation

Constant communication with customers is key when driving forward an agile environment and building trust with your customer base. It is important to know firsthand what technologies are important to your customers, and how to constantly improve their overall experience. As customer trust increases, so does the willingness to try new offerings.

According to 74 percent of IT and business leaders surveyed, agile environments improve the overall customer experience. Part of accomplishing this is making sure that the right design is in place. It is crucial to develop designs that stay consistent with the needs of customers. This also includes sticking with the overall vision of the company, and executing delivery well. When customers are top of mind, so are the products that are developed. Part of building customer trust means not overselling or, conversely, under delivering. Companies need to always develop and sell products that are in the best interest of their customers. Trust is also built on honesty, making sure that transparency is top of mind and that misrepresentations of products, or plans for delivery aren’t made.

Internal trust is just as important as external trust. Team work and communication is a must to ensure that everyone is invested in the sprint, and development teams are not siloed. When development teams across BUs work together, it leads to the biggest impact.

Design in scope for risk and experimentation

According to the survey results, 74 percent of IT and business leaders surveyed also say agile methods help accelerate speed to market and innovation. To speed time to market, innovation and collaboration are key elements of an agile business model. However, to be successful development teams must stay focused on the same goal, and stick to a company’s overall vision.

When development teams effectively collaborate across business units, it allows for the innovation of products that keep up with customer demands and meet the range of needs expressed by them.

Allowing teams to drive innovation through collaboration ensures that people develop creative confidence, and the ability to come up with industry-leading ideas. Collaboration amongst teams allows organizations to achieve the best results through the strongest ideas. Teams must be focused on the same goal for the act of working in an agile manner to be most effective. It is imperative to the success of development, that teams are given the flexibility to fail and iterate frequently for constant improvement.

Involve operations to avoid downstream logjams

There is now an integration between development and operations, DevOps, that sets new expectations. This brings greater flexibility and speed into the development cycle and benefits teams as they iterate new versions with ongoing feedback incorporated. As a result, you know that applications with go live with high quality and guaranteed performance.

By focusing on these key areas, agile becomes engrained in the DNA of a company’s operations. While agility is not the only element crucial to building a successful modern software factory, it is a key component as well as a cultural shift and the companies that practice agile across the enterprise will experience the greatest benefits.

By weaving agility through your business efforts, companies can create environments that stay focused on where the current need is within the industry, and allow for quick pivots to respond to demands. Successful agile practices require some big, but manageable, changes to implement including a mentality of collaboration and cooperation across the company, accounting for and encouraging calculated risk taking, and creating the bonds and working relationships across development and IT Ops. Those that focus on these key areas ultimately become “masters” of the Modern Software Factory and lead the way for organizations to come.