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Organizations usually start out small when they adopt an agile methodology and way of working. As affinity grows and teams start to perform more effectively, more teams and departments within the organization desire to adopt agile working. The organization as a whole starts to become agile at scale, but consequently runs into challenges that cannot be addressed by stand alone tools. At a certain point, organizations desire a platform that can support individual agile teams, visualize data into information for teams and management and is based on a single system of records, to support informed decision making.
To explain how such a platform can help organizations, we will take a closer look at the case at NN Investment Partners (NNIP). NNIP is the asset manager of NN Group, a Dutch financial corporation listed on Euronext Amsterdam.
Financial services industry at the front of agile transformation
Typically requirements in agile development are collected in backlogs containing all items that might be needed for a specific change initiative. Teams working agile manage the backlog including priorities, status per item and all issues (impediments) there are on a single place. Teams starting with agile will typically use a whiteboard with different lanes (representing the different statuses), sticky notes (one per item) and perhaps multiple colors to differentiate between users, different items, etc.
Whiteboards however lack the possibility to consolidate data in dashboards which is required when you have multiple teams working on multiple initiatives and you need to prioritize/decide on the items that add most value (including the teams that work on it). The challenge is both to create sufficient ‘consistency’ to make informed decision making and reporting possible without affecting the ‘empowerment’ of the individual teams too much.
NNIP adopted ServiceNow to support the agile way of working. The solution contains different boards in ServiceNow replacing the physical boards and is available as a ready made solution (Agile4U) in the ServiceNow App Store. This enabled NNIP to both serve the needs of the individual teams (empowerment), which were not forced to manage the same data in several systems and serve the needs of the management (transparency). Management could use the same system to define initiatives and use the data of those initiatives to support informed decision making.
The agile trinity
Of course, processes and technology aren’t the only keys to success for agile transformations. An often overlooked but crucial factor can best be described as ‘people’. Ultimately teams and departments need to support the agile methodology of choice and the tools or platforms that are used to support agile working. Technology can actually help users to adopt the system. When data is transformed in meaningful dashboards which support decision making, this will in turn have an effect on data quality. Dashboards that are perceived meaningful are used but the data that doesn’t make sense will get questioned. By creating a combined sense of ownership, both from individual teams and management, encourage users to maintain the system and data (and adhere to guidelines) which will improve data quality and ultimately benefit the organization as a whole as well as its users.
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