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Over the last few months I’ve been writing about the adoption of an Agile delivery approach for SAP and some of the challenges that have to be overcome when taking that path.

As I’m talking to customers these days it’s becoming increasingly apparent that being agile as a business is fundamental in order to adapt quickly to new market conditions and to get ahead of the competition.

I constantly hear about digital transformation and the digital economy and how these are affecting pretty much every business.  When software, and especially SAP, enables a huge part of business operations it’s crucial for it to be able to support new digital initiatives.

In short we need to move fast but also make sure that we don’t break things.

This is where Agile and in more advanced cases, DevOps, come in.

I’ve just returned from a trip to Germany and witnessed such a transformation in one of Germany’s largest companies.

Their office was wall-to-wall Agile scrum boards.  I counted at least 15 of them with each team focused on specific business processes and functions.  I saw a real engagement in teamwork and collaboration between people and functions.

I know for a fact that that this organization had no practical experience of Agile before they started but people and management were both open to new ways of doing things.  They are making it a big success and are now looking at more advanced methods like test-driven development and optimized processes like continuous integration and continuous delivery.

However, many other companies understand the need to modernize their applications but aren’t clear on how they can actually do it in a timely fashion.

It’s become clear to me that SAP teams must have the ability and flexibility to change at the speed the wider business needs. But they also need confidence in the process, culture and tools so that it can be achieved without compromising the stability that’s so important to them.

Traditionally development is fragmented and complex, with supporting business processes and roles more closely linked to a waterfall approach.  Companies that have successfully adopted Agile processes understand that it is not just an IT exercise and that the organization as a whole needs to evolve:

  • Become more product focused
  • Bring the business and IT close together
  • Redefine roles and responsibilities within the business and IT
  • Update planning and budgeting models

To help other companies understand what’s involved in becoming Agile I invite you to read some of my previous e-books on this subject:

It’s understandable that some companies will be reluctant to change processes that appear to work pretty well but it’s important to ask whether they really do work that well and are they able to support the needs of the business as it adapts to the digital world?

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