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Tools for instilling a culture of digital transformation


Pursuing agility and building cross-functional teams

As the pace of digital transformation accelerates, agility has become a watchword among enterprises. Strategies around agility range from adopting formal Agile methodologies to devising lowercase agile approaches that aim to deliver results faster.

Shifting customer purchasing patterns, influenced How Chase builds such products today marks a departure from previous efforts to build systems for delivering customer experience.

“In some cases, experiences before had been built based on what we could do technically,” Amin said. “This is just how our systems were architected.”

Chase’s revised approach is built around “agile transformation,” which Amin described as a methodology that guides how the organization builds software. The emphasis is on creating software incrementally, and in smaller batches, to tackle specific issues and needs, he added.

This method of transformation also calls for cross-functional teams that include the business side of the enterprise. Chase’s cross-functional partnership unites product, design, data and analytics, and engineering personnel. This collaboration “is about getting business folks a lot closer to the details of what’s happening on the inside and what our engineers are building,” Amin said.

The upshot is clear accountability, rapid decision-making and the ability to build software at scale, he noted.

Slalom’s Gilmour cited velocity as one way organizations measure digital transformational success. He said he works with clients that operate in a small-and-nimble startup mindset and large enterprises that have adopted scaled frameworks. The latter include the Scaled Agile Framework and Large Scale Scrum, both of which aim to implement Agile processes across multiple development teams.

Some organizations eschew Agile in favor of homegrown methods. Joseph Thomas, CIO at PenFed, a nationwide credit union headquartered in McLean, Va., said he doesn’t talk Agile or Lean Agile. Instead, PenFed’s IT department uses an 8-8-8 approach for achieving business agility and providing software features quickly.

“We deliver within eight hours, eight days or eight weeks,” he explained. “And I work very much in partnership with the business” to determine what can be done and what should be done.

Getting business and technology on the same page is an objective Slalom also pursues. Gilmour said the consulting firm believes in a top-down/bottom-up approach that brings together a transformation management office, executive-level sponsorship and grassroots efforts advocating for Agile processes. The transformation management office — what some organizations might call a center of excellence — takes responsibility for establishing standards and practices. This organization also communicates why the proposed digital transformation is happening. How it gets done, however, is left to the executive tier.

“The executive sponsorship has to decide how the organization is going to consume it,” Gilmour said. The leadership determines whether the rollout follows the Big Bang approach or takes an incremental path that introduces change on a division-by-division basis, he noted. The grassroots component, meanwhile, gets a say in how areas such as software development will function in the transformed business.


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