What Is Agile Transformation? Step by Step Guide


Agile transformation has a 47% fail rate (I know not a nice way to start this article) but you don’t have to join the long line of organizations that have failed agile transformation already. If you’re looking to get your organization through a successful agile transformation, we’ve got your back!

How Your Agile Transformation Can Be A Total Success agile transformation

Today, we’ll discuss agile transformation and how your agency can join successful agile organizations.

But, as always, let’s start with the definition of agile transformation.

What Is Agile Transformation?

Agile transformation is when you transition your entire organization to follow and implement the agile practices specified in the manifesto. In the case of an agile transformation approach, the transformation isn’t limited to one product development team.

It starts with adopting agile software development methodologies and proceeds to integrate all the agile management practices within the company culture.

Agile transformation goes beyond fast and efficient software development. It entails fostering a flexible, reactive, and collaborative organizational culture.

The aim is to infuse creativity and innovation, creating an environment that nurtures these qualities.

Successful agile transformation results in self-organizing teams, iterative product development, improved internal communication, and streamlined processes for direct action.

Steps For A Successful Agile Transformation

Now that we’ve made the benefits of agile transformation as clear as possible, it’s time to learn the steps to take your organization through a successful agile transformation process.

1. Adopt The Agile Mindset Before You Move Forward

Agile isn’t just rushing the team members to get things done by constantly pressuring them. An agile mindset is where you promote collaboration, communication, and creativity throughout the organization for potential benefits.

Not just the management or the team members; everyone needs to adapt to the agile mindset, which will take quite a while. The management must learn to allow the team to function independently, and the individual contributors must form self-managing teams while collaborating with their senior leaders.

Here are some extra tips for adapting the agile mindset into the organization:

  • Run demo meetings in the form of retrospectives or backlog refinements.
  • Introduce strong leadership, ensuring everyone follows and adapts to the new mindset. A mix of traditional and modern can cause the transformation to fail.
  • Set small goals just like you would in sprints, and observe your team’s performance. The team can get used to creating new strategies and better team structure for fixing different problems within this time.

2. Arrange Agile Coaching

Agile development methodologies don’t just promote continuous improvement of the product itself; it also require the people implementing it to improve regularly. Agile methodology can be implemented throughout the organization by constantly training each employee about the intricacies of the practices.

The following topics require thorough understanding and why you should arrange agile coaching:

  • Lead Time: Indicates the time between a requirement being raised and fulfilled.
  • Minimum Viable Product (MVP): The most basic version of the product launched into the market. A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) supports every essential feature required to solve core pain points and gather user feedback.
  • Scrum Artifacts: Three main scrum artifacts are i. Sprint backlog, ii. Product backlog, iii. Burndown charts. All these are used for performance management and observation.
  • Sprint: Time-limited development stages where the team works toward reaching a pre-decided goal, completing a product development segment.
  • Team Retrospective: These are short meetings where the team members reflect on their past mistakes and find an improvised solution for increased speed of delivery.
  • User Stories: A user story implies the product’s features. If the feature is significant and complex, it means the user story is larger than usual, and it’s called an epic.

3. Introduce The Agile Tech Stack

Remote work is the new norm. You must understand the Agile tech stack even if you are not working with an Agile remote team. The agile methodology requires everyone to collaborate properly, and the agile tech stack ensures proper communication and collaboration among teammates.

This is where digital transformation comes in handy. Introducing better digital technologies to improve team communication and development is a great way to speed up the development to align with agile principles.

4. Start With An Agile Blueprint

Now that you have the preliminaries in place ask yourself what you want to be the outcome of this transformation.

An agile blueprint can answer all the questions. An agile blueprint defines your goals and what you must do to get there.

“The blueprint for an agile operating model is much more than an organization chart and must provide a clear vision and design of how a new operating model might work.”


5. Prepare Your Agile Roadmap

The agile roadmap is based on the blueprint you created earlier. The agile roadmap is a more specified, detailed version that answers how to reach all your goals. The roadmap contains four vital pieces of information:

  • The end goal you are trying to achieve
  • The timeline that lays down all your milestones within achievable timeframes
  • Setup of the cross-functional team
  • Definition of all your objectives and key results

6. Product Over Project Mindset Is A Must

Traditional organizations see every product as a project where they deliver the project within the time requirements of the product owner and then move on to the next project, completely forgetting the current product.

Of course, an agile mindset doesn’t work that way. In agile, products are treated as actual products rather than projects you can complete to add to the company portfolio. Agile developers embrace the product and offer continuous integration and delivery throughout the software’s lifecycle.

7. Keep Testing, Keep Improving

Now that you have complete agile in a place where all the team members know and understand what they are doing, it’s time to run test sprints and post-sprint activities to ensure everything is working out as intended. Here are the tests you should run and the purpose they serve:

Agile Practices You Should Test
Daily StandupsDaily meetings for the agile team members to discuss their objectives and possible roadblocks.
Product Backlog PrioritizationThe process of presenting requirements for new features while improving the old ones.
Team RetrospectiveSetting limits for several items that can exist in a single sprint.
Test SprintTime-boxed short sprints that focus on a single requirement. Running multiple sprints can reveal the team’s ability to perform efficient sprints.
WIP LimitSetting limits for a number of items that can exist in a single sprint.

If all the tests prove that your current development team can successfully handle all the agile practices, it’s time to scale your agile transformation. Each company scales differently, but you can focus on a few key points to help with efficient scaling:

  • Think of creating value rather than creating sales. Think agile across the organization and how all teams in the office can work in tandem to create more value.
  • Bring your teams together with solid communication and complete transparency.
  • Agile empowers each individual and promotes self-organizing teams, and that’s what you should do too. Set goals for individuals instead of teams.
  • Any outdated process should be removed from the entire cycle as soon as possible.

Difference Between Agile Transformation And Agile Adoption

Most organizations have a common confusion between agile transformation and agile adoption. Distinguishing between the two can help the organization take the right steps toward an agile transformation and manage its expectations accordingly.

Characteristics of Agile Adoption

  • Takes a short amount of time to implement
  • The organizational structure stays the same
  • Only the team undergoing agile adoption changes their approach

Characteristics of Agile Transformation

  • It can take years to accomplish completely
  • The entire organizational structure gets completely rewired to suit the Agile manifesto.
  • The change of approach happens at an organizational level

Difference Between Agile Transformation And Digital Transformation

Agile transformation presents a framework for improved technology implementation. On the other hand, digital transformation only replaces outdated manual processes and replaces them with modern digital technology, automating the entire process.

Agile transformation can be considered complementary to digital transformation since both of these transformations deal with continuous innovation caused by radical changes and shifting market scenarios.

The digital world moves fast, and most organizations following the traditional methods struggle to keep up with it. But with agile transformation, any agency can efficiently adapt to an effective digital transformation.

Benefits Of A Successful Agile Transformation

Though the chances of agile transformation succeeding is nearly 50-50, the benefits in case it does become a success are undeniable. Let’s look at the top five of them.

1. Improved Team Collaboration

Agile practices offer better flexibility for the team members to work in tandem. When a team is self-organizing and coming up with solutions to problems, they collaborate better.

An autonomous team has more scope for creativity and better collaboration and boosts team morale.

2. Faster Project Delivery

Agile project development breaks down a major development cycle into short iterations called “sprints.” These sprints run for two weeks on average, and they can eliminate any unnecessary processes and distractions to hone the team’s focus.

After the end of each sprint, there’s a retrospective team meeting that helps the team refocus on their priorities and address any additional concerns. This way, product development is more rapid, and the project delivery is much faster than traditional software development methods.

3. Increased ROI

Organizations that have successfully transformed into ATOs only focus on projects that bring better ROI. And since agile practices can increase efficiency for any project, the agency can continue delivering high-value projects that can bring improved ROI.

Agile teams also know how to cut costs by removing unnecessary processes and tech stacks, which ensures better cost management.

4. Better Transparency

Agile teams maintain detailed documentation which are easily accessible. The team uses different agile development tools to visualize their work progress, making it easy for anyone to keep track of the work progress.

This increases the transparency of the project throughout the organization.

5. Reduced Risk

Adapting to agile development practices, the developer team can quickly address bugs, customer feedback, and other concerns. When the team is actively working on constantly improving the product by acting on a feedback loop, the product has a reduced risk of failure.

Challenges For A Successful Agile Transformation

1. The Resources Will Be Strained

A complete agile transformation can take years to be implemented all over the organization. Any organization opting for an agile transformation has to spend a lot of time and resources to train different teams to adopt the agile methodology and the tech stack.

The costs build up over time since the tech stack requires constant maintenance, and training gets updated as modern agile evolves. The constant cost can strain the resources of any organization and slow potential business growth.

2. Resisting Change

It’s very difficult to change and revolutionize the working environment and mindset of workers who have been used to the traditional method of working forever. These people see no downside in working the old-fashioned way, so they will not spend time and effort to adapt to a new one. After all, if it ain’t broken, why fix it?

As an organization owner or part of the management, you have to do your best to showcase the benefits of agile transformation appealingly.

3. Cultural Resistance

Agile transformation changes any office at a core level, so the company culture is also highly affected. Agile changes how leaders think and operate along with the rest, and it can highly impact the existing company culture.

Not every employee will welcome this change, as the sudden shift can create an unfamiliar environment for many.

4. Lack of Clarity

Suppose everything is working out pretty well, and your entire organization is on the idea of becoming regular agile practitioners. But even then, lack of clarity can cause the employees to have trouble navigating the new work principles.

Agile transformation requires a complete change of process, principles, and team roles. Even when the employees are eager to adopt the new system, it can take them quite a while to absorb all the information and keep up with all the new trends and changes.

5. Rushing For Results

Some organizations and their senior executives only see agile as “a faster way to get results” and cannot grasp the complete concept. They continue to expect agile transformation benefits from everyone without offering proper support for the different agile roles.

Many management leaders also try to rush the process to save costs and resources used for agile training, which can also cause the transformation to halt or fail.

It’s a process that slowly integrates the core values of the agile manifesto within a company culture over a long period. Agile culture can’t be measured with baseline metrics; it’s a culture promoting a flexible approach to everything.

To Wrap It All Up

Agile transformation strategy begins with the leader of an organization. They must update their behavior and mindset before preaching the change throughout the management frameworks.

Consistency is the biggest element of a successful agile transformation, and being consistently agile can result in a successful transformation.


What Is an Agile Transformation Roadmap?

An agile transformation roadmap is a visual method that guides an organization through transitioning to an agile workflow.

What Is an Agile Transformation for Project Management?

Agile project management is a software project management method that focuses on continuous iterations of the product, where customer feedback is implemented to improve each iteration.

What Are Some Real-Life Examples of Successful Agile Transformation?

BBVA, JP Morgan Chase, Philips

What Role Does a Leader Play in Agile Transformation?

The agile transformation process starts with the leader. The leader has to transform themselves first, then transform the rest of the organization while supporting the entire process.