Agile Organization

Six Challenges of Agile at Scale for ERP

Scaling agile has proven an ongoing challenge with no universal solutions. Every business must find its own way. In an article at IT World Canada, John Belden outlines six of the biggest difficulty areas involved in scaling agile for enterprise resource planning (ERP):

  1. Key decision governance
  2. Backlog management
  3. Synchronizing/aligning scrum teams
  4. Integration of part-time and shared resources
  5. Required bureaucracy for large projects
  6. Vendor accountability/performance

Too Big to Succeed

Decision-making is relatively simple in a team, but decision-making that involves coordination across multiple teams is anything but simple. Belden says there will likely be “winners and losers” with decision-making of this scale, which means decision-making is not only sluggish, but it could also incur sour grapes.

Backlog management too is a problem, in two senses. Firstly, many items in a backlog at scale will not actually be clearly related to software development. Second, many items are non-discretionary and “are a direct requirement of other teams.” This problem of not being able to synchronize around shared priorities is pervasive of all of the challenges Belden outlines. For instance, this is what he has to say about bureaucracy in large projects:

To keep the project on track, it is typical that the higher-ups are involved in formal Stage Gate Reviews and that they have what they need to support the review. Typically, in large-scale projects, more output and documentation are required to get full support from review board members. A paradox with implementing agile is that there will be more focus on incremental development throughout the project and less on documentation in general. This complicates the team’s ability to provide board level transparency of spend and risk management.

This is a big can of worms, and unfortunately for us, Belden only draws attention to the problems. He does not offer solutions. Do you have some to share?

You can view the original article here:

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