Does Agile Delivery Always Accelerate Business Benefits?

One of the key principles behind Agile software development was to remove the intermediary barriers between business and technology teams in order to form a more collaborative way of working, allowing technology teams to deliver value more quickly and frequently. However, this increased volume of change still needs to be delivered in a coherent way so that the business can make sense of and fully utilise the value being delivered.

Agile Can't Solve Every Problem

Even with Agile development, there are still challenges that make it difficult for the business to manage the aggregate effect of multiple change activities as they relate to clients and client supporting teams. It can be difficult to visualise the delivery pipeline through the “business impact” lens. Technology organisations need to collaborate closely with the business change readiness teams, or the actual business beneficiaries themselves, to truly understand how quickly the new capabilities can be adopted and the value realised.

The general view of business users is that there is no “business as usual” any more and that continuous change can often leave them on the back foot, unable to keep up.

B2C vs B2B

With a B2C model, such as a smartphone app, updates are shown with notifications and the user can upgrade at the press of a button. In this space, there is almost an expectation of continuous change and small, regular updates work well. Receiving updates is a fairly intuitive experience from the user’s perspective, with a low level of friction and inconvenience.

However, the same will not always be achievable in a B2B relationship or between a technology department and its internal business users. This is because the impact of change has to be viewed in aggregate to realise the values and benefits. Continuous incremental releases can be disruptive and large business teams increase the risk of someone not understanding or fully adopting a change. Adequate time needs to be provided for training and communication and the updating and approval of core processes and procedures. Business users may not want to be doing this every week, particularly as complex changes could involve compliance reviews and sign-offs.

Agile delivery does accelerate the delivery of value to the business as long as the deliverables are aligned to key business change events. Providing the business with better visibility and greater control over change events will reduce the risk of release overload and accelerate the adoption of new technology, allowing the value of incremental changes once rolled up to be realised.

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