I am pretty passionate about methodology and Agile methods in particular. Agile is the future; that’s for sure, but not pure Agile in very large-scale Digital Transformation projects. It won’t work, couldn’t work due to the nature of the program.
You cannot address the entire enterprise changing bit by bit. We all know this to be accurate, but you also cannot afford to wait until every “i” is dotted, and “t” is crossed as in a pure waterfall project. We have all seen the big bloated projects fail, more often than not, but we have also seen smaller focused efforts fail, and it’s not for the lack of trying.
Digital Transformation projects that truly transform enterprises just take too long. During a long project management can change, business priorities can change, sponsors may come and go. The business itself could be prone to significant market swings in the time it takes to do a big Digital Transformation project. Especially if you wait for a global design and build!
Tools like SAP Activate are excellent tools to help address this. With a couple of simple mods, it’s even better. However, Activate does not equal Agile. It embraces some Agile concepts, but its focus is on enterprise design. It has to be!
Activate was born from SAP’s focus on Assemble to Order versus Design to Order concepts. Better to take something everyone else in your industry already uses for the 80% of processes that produce 20% of the benefits for your organization. Then you can focus your significant efforts on the processes that provide 80% of the benefit but are more like 20% of the processes. That’s how these projects get completed faster, better, cheaper, and safer (with less risk). The faster you can address the essential bits; the 20%, the better the transformation will work, always.
Best run projects focus on global design, to begin with, but not a detailed “design” with every nook and cranny designed and documented. Requirements will change by the time it’s 100% implemented (if that ever happens).
Best run projects also produce a high-level global design. That design does not need to be paper-based. It should be encapsulated within a prototype being built using mostly standard functionality supporting efficient processes. Documentation does need to be produced; however, in this environment it should follow the build, in order to document what was done, not guide it. Processes always change between paper-based documentation and the actual build in a waterfall-based project anyway.
To complete Agile based projects, pick the bits that can be completed rapidly, say within 30 days. These may not be able to go live individually, but they should work and be able to be demonstrated. Subsequent “Sprints” build on this functionality so the users, sponsors, and all concerned can see actual processes working, not unlike the visualization of a building being built. Sure, no one can occupy the first floor until a lot of work has been completed above it but construction methods do allow buildings to be used while other areas are being completed. Why not the same for Digital Transformations?
Build, show, build, show, etc. Systems rarely change before they go live, or are at least ready to go live when the actual users begin to see them. Whenever the users start to use them (testing, UAT, etc.), the flaws, process challenges, and such show up in spades. Best practice should be getting people to use processes in an as real-world fashion as possible well before all of the ironwork is completed. There is time to make relatively cheap changes along the way. Using the Agile approach to building the system makes this possible. That’s the main benefit of using Agile components. And it works.
The core Platinum PMO is in being an advocate and advisory in the ever-challenging world of DX. Experience, knowledge, and expertise in guiding clients through programs with relative ease, while providing the needed clarity during crucial decisions is a core value we provide to our clients.
Do not hesitate to contact us, and see for yourself how we might be of assistance to you. We revel in solving (often avoiding) problems by providing efficient solutions that help YOU WIN!