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Dependencies: To be Agile, you need to break them



Scrum teams should have everything they need to deliver an increment of value; when they don’t – there is a dependency. Dependencies come in different forms – often because the team doesn’t have the required skill set or they require third party integrations. Other times dependencies might occur when the ownership of decision making is missing or a UAT phase is imposed.

As a company scales their development, the likelihood of dependencies materialising is increased and because dependencies can block a team from completing their Definition of Done, they cannot be truly agile; their accountability will be diluted and you’ll hear excuses for not being able to deliver. Stabilising velocity and gaining predictable delivery becomes a significant challenge.

Breaking Dependencies

If having a predictable, adaptable delivery function is the goal, breaking dependencies is a pre-requisite. But going from zero to hero in a flash almost never works, especially when the organisation in question is an established one with the responsibility to meet revenue targets and satisfy shareholders.

Many organisations decide to combat this challenge by implementing “agile” teams and using a mechanism such as up-front planning. This helps raise awareness of cross-team dependencies ahead of time but the management of these dependencies through delivery is often a problem; software development is inherently complex, things change and the ability to adapt is paramount.

It is not uncommon to lose track of the dependent work through the delivery cycle as changes arise; large organisations often use a multitude of tooling and spreadsheets to manage this work, much of which is updated manually for reporting purposes. The result is missed deadlines, inaccurate data leading to poor decision making, and development teams being constantly interrupted for the latest update.

Predictable Delivery

The key to achieving predictable delivery is to ensure that a well thought out transformation strategy is in place, one that optimises the full value chain – this will help break many dependencies, and for those that remain it is crucial that they are appropriately managed. Old tooling is not fit for purpose in these environments, you need to be able to make decisions quickly to get fast feedback to the teams on the ground. Getting as close to real-time data as possible is vital, you can’t rely on project management to be up to date with the latest developments at all times.

The BigAgile platform was designed from the ground up to help you manage your agile delivery no matter what stage of transformation you are at. And even if you’ve not yet decided on a scaled agile approach, BigAgile makes your dependencies visible and tracks them at a programme level in real-time so you can make the big decisions faster and navigate the roadblocks to become a more predictable organisation.

For more on how BigAgile helps you manage dependencies visit the link.


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