The question of “how can we implement SCRUM” takes a disproportional amount of IT management bandwidth
Agile is a great word. Put simply it's the ability to move quickly and easily, a truly enviable characteristic. Yet the word seems to have been hijacked by a certain section of the development community. Agile processes have over the years included Extreme Programming, Adaptive System Development, DSDM, Feature Driven Development, Kanban, Crystal and more. But the one which seems to be currently jamming the airwaves is SCRUM.
The question of “how can we implement SCRUM” takes a disproportional amount of IT management bandwidth. Note that we´re not knocking the methodology per se but we want to ask; if SCRUM is the answer what actually is the question? IT exists to help the business win – where business activity needs to executed in deliberately unstable processes, then sure, project management and development approaches need to match. But where the goals are standardization, predictability, reliability and accuracy - the means are not necessarily the same.
IT leaders must develop responses to different business objectives across their IT service portfolio. Agility (simplicity, speed) must be pursued through many mechanisms most of which have nothing to do with incremental and iterative development (IID).
The business call for IT to do more with less (and whilst you’re at it please do it faster) isn’t anything new. IT Leaders have faced this challenge for decades. What is new, is the number of enabling approaches that can be brought to bear on this problem. True IT leaders will be the ones that embrace these mechanisms and promote agility in all its guises.
So where do we start?
Firstly ensure that your application portfolio management capability allows you to separate the IT portfolios that automate stable, slow-change, non-differentiating business process from those that need to remain flexible and innovative to drive real market advantage. Secondly make sure that your integrated delivery models meet these different needs; the first through vertical standardized industrial models and the later though promoting agile collaboration between development and operations staff throughout all stages of the development lifecycle.
A word of warning. Be careful not to create Chinese walls; unstable business processes today may become stable tomorrow. Care must be taken to nurture good practices and flow between both modes. In essence we need to see them as two equal parts for the same purpose, that of delivering of essential IT services that meet very specific business needs. That’s definitely not just about delivering innovation, for us, it’s all about true agility.