The pandemic’s work-from-home mandates threw a wrench into many communications and media companies’ product development efforts. With no quick return to co-location in sight, companies that are new to Agile are tasked with not only mastering the software development methodology as they transition from traditional waterfall processes, but doing so in a remote environment — a turn of events that runs contrary to Agile’s emphasis on collaboration.
With some course corrections, though, we believe remote Agile is within reach — perhaps making teams even more productive.
Complicating communications and media companies’ challenge is that many are newcomers to the Agile methodology and its many processes. Although Agile has standardized approaches, it’s also a framework that’s subject to wide interpretation. Agile means different things to different people. Some stakeholders view it as an IT-only approach, others as a broader path to overall business flexibility. Both are right. What’s missing at many companies is a unified approach that brings the two perspectives together. Without it, an organization never really becomes Agile enough to take full advantage of its potential enterprise wide.
For example, we regularly help companies kick off their Agile efforts with training for technology and business teams, which is an important start. So is involving multiple stakeholders in product development conversations. Within communications and media companies’ advertising departments, for instance, we’ve seen in-house digital development teams welcome marketers and product strategists to the training table and product planning discussions.
Where companies’ efforts fall short, however, is in execution. They don’t build out the full Agile methodology and underlying DevOps and automated testing that enable virtual teams to work together effectively. Teams that rely on a more superficial form of Agile can often fare well from a process standpoint when it comes to hosting virtual sessions. But the release of software on demand requires enabling Agile’s continuous delivery pipeline, and that means adopting new ways of working, such as a streamlined change-approval process that allows for a more continuous flow. In this deeper level of adoption, companies that are new to Agile and still on a learning curve often fall short of their desired results. And many other organizations are missing out on Agile’s ability to pivot quickly — just when teams need it most to improve product quality.
Fully embracing Agile offers significant process and efficiency benefits for communications and media companies, especially in a mid- and post-COVID-19 world. We recently partnered with one of the largest U.S. cable and internet companies on a strategic program to embrace Agile, which included training product development teams in the methodology’s techniques. The company also adopted the continuous delivery model. When the shutdown hit, the company shelved its Agile project and pivoted the team’s focus to address a more pressing business need: enabling the sales force to sell more with fewer people.
Ramping up with remote agile
Getting Agile right in a virtual environment requires communications and media companies to double down on their commitment to the methodology. Here are steps they can take to recalibrate and more fully adopt remote Agile: