Why are corporates struggling to adopt Agile?

Agile is becoming an increasingly attractive project management methodology for organisations beyond tech start-ups, but these enterprise organisations report mixed results. We have spoken to a number of digital product owners in such organisations, and this is what we’ve learned:

The biggest problem in adopting agile relates to managing stakeholders’ expectations

By stakeholders, we mean the management boards or executive committees sponsoring those projects.

To the stakeholders, the Agile teams are delivering transformative goals spanning multiple years, which means one thing — milestones must be erected and delivered to justify the spending in each annual budget. With them being unfamiliar with Agile concepts and not attending rituals to see first-hand how Agile works flexibly to deliver the goals, their sense of exclusion resulted in questions and distrust.

Stakeholders pledge against the milestones, yet do not get assurance from the Agile teams. Little wonder they feel uneasy with Agile, and end up interfering with team dynamics to the detriment of goal delivery.

It’s not a hopeless situation — some of the product owners we spoke with successfully turned hostile, anxious stakeholders into vocal supporters of Agile methodology, with one common focus:

Nurture lines of communications between Agile teams and stakeholders

These successful product owners proactively look for the right channels to inform, consult and collaborate with stakeholders. These channels can be regular steering meetings, 1–2–1 catch-ups, emails or even shared Google slides. Whatever works.

Equally important, these product owners relentlessly fine tune their communication tones until stakeholders feel total transparency on the teams’ progress and plans. The secret to transparency is the level of details — too granular and stakeholders will feel overwhelmed, too abstract and stakeholders think that someone’s hiding inconvenient truths.

Agile is about team autonomy and flexibility, but in an enterprise environment, stakeholders must not be forgotten. They hold your budget.

Team Allegro enables agile project teams to engage stakeholders cheaply and more often through our project extranet. Check us out here at: www.teamallegro.com