Investment in digital technology has risen visibly, yet plenty of those who took on larger transformation projects so far came to a halt in their advance towards digitization.

Such situations demonstrate that firms may need to lean more into agile project management and divide big projects into smaller pieces to make change more manageable and lead successful transformation initiatives.

Teodora Gaici

Author Teodora Gaici | Copperberg

Photo: Freepik

The world of manufacturing has seen a high demand for digital transformation in the years since COVID-19 emerged. Manufacturers at large have pushed their way into the new era of digital manufacturing, but progress has stalled for some of those involved in major transformation programs. As reported by Copperberg’s community, a key problem in such contexts has been a lack of internal ownership. Worse still, the growing flood of data involved in digital transformation has also been overwhelming for many. But the picture is not as bleak as it may seem. That is because there are ways to prevent change projects from remaining in limbo. One is to manage massive and disruptive change, such as digital transformation, the agile way.

Those who are disposed to work under an agile project management framework like scrum can support and maximize the value from a transformation program. Here is what to know about the scrum methodology and how it can be used to cut through the complexity of digital change.

What Scrum Means for Firms Undergoing Transformational Change

Together, the guiding principles of scrum promise a fairly simple way to drive and sustain major change efforts. As defined in the 2020 Scrum Guide™ by co-creators Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the scrum methodology is “a lightweight framework that helps people, teams, and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems”. It is added that:

“Scrum wraps around existing practices or renders them unnecessary. [It] makes visible the relative efficacy of current management, environment, and work techniques so that improvements can be made.” — The 2020 Scrum Guide™

Those working with the scrum method have the opportunity to break down large and complex digital transformation projects into a series of short and iterative cycles. Plus, this agile method of managing change creates an environment of constant improvement, making transformations much more achievable. Immediately after a cycle has concluded, the scrum team’s priority is—according to the 2020 version of the Scrum Guide™—set on analyzing:

  • What went well?
  • What problems appeared?
  • How were—or were not—the problems solved?

Members of a scrum team inspect the progress of projects regularly. They also commit to meeting together often to collaboratively devise the next steps of their strategy and adapt flexibly to changing requirements. The regularity of a team’s retrospective meetings creates transparency—which, in turn, builds up trust. And trust is a key contributor to successful change initiatives.

Every facet of a scrum-driven project relies heavily on transparency. The framework’s co-authors markedly pointed out that “inspection without transparency is misleading and wasteful”. So each detail about the project must be visible to all team members to avoid ill-advised decisions as they reflect on progress and seek to identify areas of improvement. Propitiously enough, the scrum methodology is built in such a way to encourage daily contact between team members, allowing firms to maintain full transparency and mobilize collective efforts for change management.

All of this comes to prove that scrum is a valuable tool to achieve change that is hoped for within a firm.

Who Plays a Central Role Within the Scrum Team

A scrum team is a small group of self-managing individuals that has no structural hierarchies. Each member of this team can deliver work autonomously. But firms still need a leader of transformational change to put them on the right way to success.

Typically, any scrum team has one person taking on the role of an owner who leads the direction of all change efforts and works to maximize the value of the team’s work. This leader, once given ownership, formulates and communicates a clear vision of the digital transformation project to ensure that each team member has a shared understanding of it. Also, part of the owner’s responsibility is to:

  • Establish the project’s goal
  • Set up and adjust priorities for the project
  • Create and order backlog items
  • Ensure transparency of the backlog
  • Assign or delegate work to others

Therefore, the work of a transformational change owner is essential to the project’s success. Those working in such roles keep a close eye on how the whole project progresses and provide cross-functional support so that the team achieves the best possible results. In other words, they empower the team to succeed in driving large and lasting change. Such leaders have the authority to get things done, but as per the Scrum Guide™, “the entire organization must respect their decisions” first.

Why Agile Project Management Is a Good Framework to Approach Change

There are plenty of unknowns on the road ahead to change. But it is possible to turn unpredictable situations like these into much more manageable experiences. All it takes is investing in agile project management.

An agile change management plan is poised to speed up the pace of change within firms. Simply put, agile methodologies have a built-in focus on the adaptability and flexibility to change. So utilizing the agile approach of managing transformations is the best choice for firms looking to handle complex change situations faster and deliver more rapid results.

Furthermore, the transition to agile provides an easy way to erase the obstacles firms have commonly come to endure on their path to change. Agile methods, for example, take account of project ownership. Those working under agile principles are encouraged to establish a trusted leader who takes ownership of the change initiative and makes important decisions that everyone can readily embrace.

Not least, firms that found success with agile methods and efficiently drove transformation programs can sustain the change they brought about through increased collaboration, feedback loops, and interactive work. Keeping the focus on continuously improving existing efforts is a crucial attribute of agile teams that is also able to support ongoing change.

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