CA champagne blog series (#4): Tools and technology for business agility success

The right tools and materials can be a vital part of maintaining peak performance

In the fourth of our series of blogs on the CA Technologies’ business agility transformation, Skip Angel, Christine Hudson, Sairam Chamarti and Sri Parthasarathy talk about the tools that are helping us better understand how we deliver value to our customers.

 

You look at any person that is master of his or her craft, experience and skills are only part of the success. Having the right tools and materials can be a vital part of maintaining peak performance.

Likewise when it comes to mastering business agility, investing in an appropriate toolset is as important as having the right support and coaching in place. In particular, agile is all about transparency of value delivered, and it’s very hard to achieve that without a global platform via which everyone can view effort, progress, and outcomes.

With a plethora of solutions, tools, and technologies out there, it’s good to investigate a few before committing. As we took on our agile transformation, we took a close look at some key considerations, including:

  • Will this give us visibility to work being done and value being created – real-time, across our portfolio?
  • Will it allow us to see if our teams are over capacity, likely leading to missing deliveries and functionality?
  • Will it allow us to see the quality that we’re delivering?
  • Will it allow us to seamlessly plan and track work and dependencies as we scale agile across hundreds of people – or hundreds of teams – all delivering to a larger product, program, or project?
  • Does it integrate with our developer, leader, PM, PMO must-have tools? Provide data automatically for our leadership must-have reports?
  • Will it support and enhance our team’s ability to do what they do best, instead of impeding progress by getting in the way?

Tracking Business Agility progress

Tools aren’t always technology-based – here at CA Technologies, we’re using a business agility maturity model to measure behavioral indicators and help us understand whether we’re leveraging the behaviors we’ve seen create success in other companies.

We also use scorecards (“flashlights”) leveraging this model on a quarterly basis to shine a light on our progress within each business unit. It’s basically a self-assessment that allows teams to see how they’re performing, and is used in our Quarterly Steering Meetings and PI planning to guide our next improvement actions.

A word of advice on scorecards though – such data must be handled carefully. It is intended as a self-assessment and not a reward/punishment determination rubric. Misuse is likely to result in falsified data in the future!

(For more info on how to use metrics for “good”, check out our paper on How to Kill Agility: Nine Metrics Mistakes http://www.ca.com/content/dam/ca/us/files/white-paper/how-to-kill-agility-nine-metrics-mistakes.pdf )

 Keeping aligned

Another important tool we’re using in CA’s transformation is a strategy grid, based loosely on the Hoshin Kanri x-matrix. This is used to articulate the business strategy in a simplified, memorable way, and help us ensure we’re always tying back our activities and results to the overall business goals.

As well as focusing activities on a few specific strategies, it helps each of our business units to communicate their goals, align their individual strategy to that of the wider business, and understand how initiatives are connected.

To create strategy grids in the first place, I’d advise getting the value stream leadership team together for a facilitated strategy articulation meeting, starting with true north/vision, line of business strategies (limit to three!), and critical initiatives. A good test is to ask each person at the leadership meeting to explain the strategy to someone else!  Once the leadership team have a common perspective, goals and priorities, the alignment can be extended across teams so that they are tactically executing together towards a common strategy.

Creating visibility

Finally, we come to the technologies that are fundamental to the day-to-day activities that drive customer value delivery. Our Agile Management solutions, CA PPM (Project & Portfolio Management), CA Agile Central and CA Flowdock are used by thousands of employees across our business to track project and product value delivery. Yes, we use our own tools because they really help us see how we’re delivering to our investment strategies.  And ust as importantly, they help us plan and work collaboratively to maximize productivity, quality, and adaptability.

As well as providing everyone from senior managers to developers with visibility of all current initiatives and their outcomes, these technologies enable employees across geographically diverse locations to work together as a single team.  While never quite as effective and efficient as being in the same physical space, leveraging these tools along with other ways of communication will feel like we share a virtual room together.

While the Agile manifesto states that “individuals and interactions over process and tools”, as you scale your enterprise across teams located in geographic locations across the world you will need some amount of tooling and technologies to best collaborate and communicate as individuals.  With the right balance of learning, coaching, process and tooling, organizations can gain greater business agility as masters of their craft.

 

Stay tuned for more blogs chronicaling our transformation efforts here at CA.  In the meantime, learn more about the tools we’re using from CA Agile Management Solutions.

 

Read the full CA Champagne Blog series: 


Skip spent 25 years in software development in a variety of positions, but now—as a…

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