3 Ways to Start the Journey to Agile and Bimodal – Part 2

Thursday, January 12, 2017
Agile is becoming mainstream. A recent Version One survey on the State of Agile <cited> reported that 95% of respondents said their organizations practiced agile. However, many organizations with established waterfall methods continue to grapple with what this means in practice and how to blend agile and traditional methods to establish bimodal delivery capabilities.


Whilst most organizations recognize the benefits of agile, traditional methods will continue to have a place in their delivery toolkits.  The real challenge is understanding how the two approaches can co-exist. The journey to agile represents a cultural shift; whereas success depends on changing hearts and minds. Implementing Agile effectively requires the application of these principles to every aspect of your change delivery.

As discussed in our previous blog Digital Labs, starting with smaller initiatives and adopting a pragmatic approach can provide the visible benefits that will build support for agile practices and bimodal delivery.   This is the second of a series of blogs examining some of the ways in which this might be achieved.

2    Embrace ‘Shadow IT’

CIOs of larger organisations often bemoan systems implemented without the involvement of the corporate IT department, i.e. ‘Shadow IT’.  Business personnel showcase what they are able to achieve without the inertia of corporate IT, but they are not comparing like for like.

Shadow IT solutions often fall short in areas such as scalability, security and resilience and lack effective support.  Any resulting incidents are likely to land in the CIO’s lap, hence the resistance, even though they may have been unaware the culprit system existed beforehand.

Any attempts to supress Shadow IT are doomed to failure because the underlying needs remain.  In addition, recent technology advances have helped the proliferation of Shadow IT.  A recent survey of 200 CIOs reported that 83% believe cloud based solutions will increase the procurement of technology outside corporate IT.2  68% also report the need for fast deployment of new applications as an extreme or significant concern.

The existence of shadow IT is a clear indicator of a need for greater agility, presenting an opportunity for corporate IT departments to establish capabilities to fulfil that need.

Establishing this agility requires a tapered approach to governance and assurance or Adaptive PPM, whereby a ‘light touch’ is applied to those projects deemed low risk.  In the longer term it may require investment in technology platforms to host user community developed solutions, with the benefit that corporate IT can then take care of the platform risks noted above.

The key to harnessing the energies directed at Shadow IT initiatives lies in getting the ‘soft’ factors right.  Corporate IT must reach out to business managers and be responsive to their needs rather than being seen as blockers.   Corporate IT must also educate business managers about the risks associated with their choices and help them make better informed decisions.  Jointly owned policies for managing risk can then be agreed.

Embracing Shadow IT is not without its challenges, but provides an ideal environment for developing agile practices that demonstrably solve the business problems traditional methods have failed to address.

Given lack of business support and cultural factors as the main causes of failure when adopting Agile1, Shadow IT represents an opportunity that should be seized.

The next blog in the series will discuss using agile analysis and design techniques in traditional projects.

1 VersionOne: 10th State of Agile Report
2 Brocade: Global CIO Survey 2015

Eric Singleton is a Pcubed Principal Consultant.  He has led the business design and change on programmes in the public sector, logistics, finance, aerospace and manufacturing.  Whilst a Business Solution and Business Analysis Assurance Lead at a large UK logistics company he was helped define the Digital Lab’s operating model, introduced agile techniques into the Technology project delivery model and trained business project managers on how to utilise agile techniques in their projects.

For further information on this article and Pcubed, please email info@pcubed.com.