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The path to Agile: Successes and slip-ups

Byron Connolly | June 22, 2015
"I think we are a long way off being great at it," says News Corp's Alisa Bowen.

CBA has also used Agile methodologies for customer-facing functions using start up-style delivery, he said.

"Where we want to go next is quite confronting for us; using the power of Agile to break down through the permafrost of the rest of the organisation and to say 'here's the customer goal', and start including risk, compliance and operations people ... to use Agile and start to get them solving a problem with us.

"This is an important thing to do and it's something that we are trying out over the next few months," he said.

Australia Post has progressively digitised its business as customers start consuming its services using PCs and mobile devices. It has around 250 Agile specialists across the country working in 15 teams.

Cameron Gough, Australia Post's general manager, digital delivery centre, said the customer is now king and the organisation has been forced to change the way it develops services and the pace at which people work.

"The big start was in digital," said Gough. "We set up a digital delivery centre and I'd love to say that we had a three year plan and flawlessly executed against it but I'd be lying.

"We made many mistakes along the way. I'm glad we had a big plan because when we got into we realised that we would have missed a whole lot of learnings along the way."

Australia Post used an Agile methodology to develop a post office locator application.

"It was a nice and neat, simple architecture and we nailed it," said Gough. "But once the celebration died down, we took a look at it and said 'actually we didn't really get anything out of this, far as our Agile journey goes.' It didn't mean that the next project would be done in Agile -- we didn't get left behind with any uplift in our Agile capability," he said.

It was an 'aha moment' about how we create the environment and culture in which agile can grow and prosper. That was a big shift for us, from that moment we moved away from focusing on doing Agile to how to create the environment in which Agile can survive.

Traditional funding models don't work

Gough pointed out that traditional project funding models don't support Agile projects, which are more suited to continuous flows of investment.

"We've got organisation support for more experimental development methodologies," said Gough. "With that comes the recognition that you need to ask different questions in that way of working."

The importance of cloud

Australia Post has moved all of our digital assets to the cloud using Amazon Web Services, said Gough.

"If you really want to unlock the potential of Agile and the potential of your teams, you can't lump them with 60 to 70 per cent of their time getting environments working and getting builds out," said Gough.

 

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