AGILE Methodology for Digital Transformation: Necessity and Challenges


Digital transformation involves changing existing business models and business processes to sustain in the modern digital world. Businesses today should be able to meet changing customer needs. Successful digital transformation is achieved through an AGILE transformation.

Business leaders should continuously drive their business towards innovation by continuously adapting to changing market demand and modifying business models as per the business need.

Being agile is the answer.

What is Agile in simple terms?

Agile means being able to move quickly and easily. In a deeper context, agile is an approach to dealing with uncertainties or difficulties efficiently– and succeeding. It represents adaptiveness and response to change.

Agile is mostly used as a framework for software development projects. But it goes beyond the concepts of standups, sprints, test-driven development, Scrum, or extreme programming.

The agile methodology involves continuous inspection of the task. It facilitates teamwork, encourages self-assessment and accountability. And it helps for the rapid delivery of high-end products and services by prioritizing customer needs.

Agile software development is an umbrella term used to describe a set of practices, methodologies, and frameworks based on adaptiveness, collaboration, and customer satisfaction through continuous delivery of software.

We can also define agile as a mindset. It is about understanding what is going on in the environment, identifying the ambiguities, and finding ways to deal with them. 

Before getting into how agile can be useful in a digital transformation, it is necessary to understand some basic agile principles

Let’s take a look at it:

  • Delivering a working product in short intervals.
  • A working product is how you measure success.
  • Welcoming change, even if it is in the later phases of development.
  • Business people and tech people working in sync daily.
  • Reflecting on what went right or wrong at regular intervals.
  • Building a self-organizing team that collaborates and stays in sync.
  • Promoting sustainable development.

How is AGILE relevant to Your Business?

While going through a digital transformation, it is vital to balance your business strategies with technology. But before going through it, you will need to see if you are ready for that change. The organization’s structure and operations will have to be managed so that it is prepared to deal with any uncertainties in the future.

Your business model must be adaptive and ready to handle change. This is called “Business Agility.”

Businesses are already implementing agile practices in their process. This enables them to make plans for the future and survive in the long term in this fast-changing world. Companies that do not have an adaptable or flexible vision often fall behind because they cannot adjust to quick shifts in their environment.

Let’s talk in more detail about why you need to incorporate agility in your digital transformation.

Why is AGILE essential for Digital Transformation?

Agile is tried and tested, and it works

McKinsey says that successful organizations are more likely to employ agile ways of working during their transformations. 

This tells that adopting agile frameworks has driven companies toward success.

The digital transformation journey is long and challenging, so using tried and tested agile practices will significantly reduce the risk of failure. 

Agile is based on customer feedback

In any digital transformation, customer service is a crucial aspect. And agile is also a customer-centric process. You deliver working software to the customer in short time frames. The customer can then decide whether they like the features or not and provide feedback. You adapt to that feedback quickly and efficiently and present another version to the customer. 

This is how agile works, and clearly, it takes customers as the top priority. 

Agile allows Experimentation

In traditional organizations, there is a longstanding culture of punishing failure. Execs and managers are not allowed to experiment. But digital transformation demands experimentation. If the strategy made at the beginning of the process does not work, you should be able to respond to that and make changes accordingly.

Agile gives you the freedom of experimentation. You can fail, but you have to fail fast and fail forward. There must be a willingness to try, fail, and learn. This is the only way to move on because mistakes are inevitable in the process of digital transformation. Agile does not penalize errors but encourages learning from them and improving in the future. 

The world is changing fast, and agile is the only way forward. There have been advancements in technology in the past decade like never before, and we can only assume the same will happen in the future. The digital disruption is real, and it is changing businesses as we know it. And it will keep on changing along with the world. 

Companies will require faster delivery of new digital products, better customer service, and flexible business models to keep up with this change. Agile will give you all that and more. Agile means flexibility and faster delivery. It will make it a lot easier for businesses to cope with the changing environment. 

Why Agile Teams drive Digital Transformation?

Agile teams are defined by their characteristics: collaborative, great communicators, and efficient problem solvers. They are also self-organizing and have an appetite for continuous improvement. To drive an initiative as big as a digital transformation, you will need an agile team. Here are a few agile team characteristics; let’s walk through how they can be better than traditional teams at handling digital transformation:

Constant Communication and Collaboration

An agile team understands the need to continually communicate their ideas, opinions, and progress so far with each other. They welcome honest feedback and are willing to make changes accordingly. In any digital transformation role, this is arguably the most valuable quality. 

Trust between Team Members

Trusting your team members is a must in any agile team. Each member is accountable for their tasks, which empowers them to do their best. Traditional methods of micromanaging do not work for digital transformation. You, as a business leader, should make your vision and mission statement transparent within the organization. 

Flexibility in the Workplace

This has already been mentioned one too many times, but flexibility is key! Digital transformation will simply not be successful if we go with the rigid planning and execution model. There has to be space for change, and agile teams understand that. They are open to experimentation, failing, and adjusting according to the learnings of the previous iteration.

Traditional working practices might have worked in the past, but the digital disruption has pushed enterprises to rethink their approach. Following waterfall processes, making rigid plans that cannot adapt, and depending upon separate teams with little communication among departments is not going to work anymore.

It will only lead to a failed attempt at transformation because of a lack of accountability, transparency, and critical issues not getting solved for months. Hence, the digital transformation demands agility. 

But the process of agile digital transformation does come with certain obstacles on the way. 

Challenges of Agile Transformation

Here’s a brief overview of some of those challenges and suggested ways to overcome them:

Convincing stakeholders and investors

Your business may not have adopted an agile methodology yet. It may be difficult to align different stakeholders to adopt a new working methodology. It may be more difficult if they do not understand the concept well.

Many investors work based on well-established funding models to ensure success in their investment endeavors. These models rely upon upfront certainty, and most don’t favor risky processes. 

There is also a chance of other stakeholders feeling a loss of control, because of the lack of firm commitments and unclear outcomes. They might want guarantees and fixed plans with confirmed success. But that is the opposite of agile. 

Digital transformation leaders should be able to convince the stakeholders and investors of the new methodologies they are applying and the effects it has on the long term. Funding models have not yet adapted to the new requirements and practices. The stakeholders must be encouraged to get used to the idea of agility and embrace this idea of iterative cycles of testing, experimenting, failing, learning and eventually succeeding. 

Getting Started

When you are leaping from years of traditional waterfall practice to rapid prototyping and iterative development, getting started can take way longer than necessary. Teams could be stuck in sprint zero for quite some time trying to figure out all the uncertainties and falling back into old waterfall tendencies. 

It is necessary to understand that you can get started with just the basic prerequisites and deal with them later in development. That’s what sprints are for. Getting started with the project with minimum prerequisites and working on it for a while will sooner or later clear out confusion regarding requirements, features, risks and priorities. 

Division of Larger Tasks

There is also another issue of task division in agile development. Sometimes a task might be too big to be completed in just one sprint. In this case, you can divide the task into smaller sub-tasks and work with those in a particular sprint, even if it means not having any visible progress.

Building an Agile Team

Finding the perfect candidates for an agile digital transformation team can be hectic. Allocating suitable leaders, like chief digital officers, chief analytics officer, product owners, and managers, all with an agile mindset is a difficult task. Not to mention, you will also have to select an agile group of technical people– developers, designers, solution architects– who understand the business aspect of things as well.

For digital leadership positions, you might want to hire someone who has an agile mindset. Executives like the CEO or CIO should have sound knowledge about the concept and should embrace it. 

And the easy part is you can outsource to companies who specialize in digital transformation and understand the agile concept . It will help to increase productivity and reduce the cost.

Read more about Roles you need in your Company for a Successful Digital Transformation

Scaling agile for Digital Transformation 

An experienced and talented team will ensure a successful business transformation. Likewise, to make your business agile, you must build a successful team that may include talents like Scrum Master. And afterward, executives must support the team and create best practices in the workplace like open communication and collaboration.

Additionally, business leaders should prepare the existing team to embrace the agile methodology. You should reinforce best practices by making everyone aware of the concept and deploying the necessary tools to enable agility in the company. 

Also, measuring progress is crucial to successfully adopt agile methodology. You should continuously monitor the team’s progress and improve wherever needed. 

Successful digital transformation begins with Cultural transformation. Likewise, agile transformation requires a business to change the overall business model and business processes. The change is applied to the whole company. So, agile must be a part of your organizational culture.

At Leapfrog, we implement an agile framework methodology to continuously create innovative digital products. Our top-tier teams move forward with an agile mindset. We embrace agility in our work culture.

Digital Transformation requires a talented team with a digital mindset. Leapfrog prides itself on creating practices where people understand business needs and are comfortable with adapting to new tools and technologies. Leapfrog can help you out with a portion of that problem. Book a consultation now, and we will be in touch to discuss your needs and goals.

Drishya Bhattarai

Drishya is a Digital Marketer at Leapfrog. She is interested in SEO, digital marketing, content creation and Designing.

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