Agile Organization

5 Tips from Bose for Waterfall-to-Agile Transition

Waterfall is steadily going down the drain, and Bose recognizes it. In an article for TechTarget, Sue Troy talks to Bose CIO Rob Ramrath about how Bose has made the shift to agile over time, and what top tips they have to share from the experience:

  1. Build heterogeneous teams.
  2. Collocate all development team members.
  3. Determine KPIs to measure success.
  4. Take a multi-tiered approach to portfolio management.
  5. Work to integrate business project owners into the process.

Tips that Sound Great

Although Bose adopted agile way back in 2003, Ramrath readily admits that his first tip is largely still an aspiration for the company. Building heterogeneous teams means all teams do all projects; in other words, any team is fully equipped with the skills to come up to bat for a given project. Basically, it sounds like they want to create a bunch of interchangeable super teams, so it is no wonder that not even Bose has achieved it yet.

The second tip is much more achievable but perhaps a little divisive. Bose believes no amount of technology can properly replicate face-to-face discussion. As long as soft skills come in vast supply, they believe collocated employees experience demonstrable spikes in productivity over distributed teams.

One tip everyone can agree on is how critical carefully chosen KPIs are to ensuring success. You need to know how well things are going, and a full benchmarking process might be in order. As for taking a multi-tiered approach to portfolio management, Troy writes:

In the past… [Bose portfolio managers] had no visibility into the opportunity cost or how development work was enabling business strategy. Today, vice presidents at Bose handle portfolio management across three domains: finance, sales and the supply chain. “It’s up to them, over time, if they want to change the resources available to those verticals, they can do that. Those are the big levers.” Bose vice presidents can use those levers, Ramrath said, to adjust how much the company invests in IT and how much in each vertical area.

Finally, integrating business project owners into the process means that everyone now has a vested interest in agile development. When everyone feels the heat, they will work that much harder to fix the air conditioning (yeah, strange metaphor). Metaphors aside, you can read the original article here:

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