In the fast-paced and versatile world that businesses operate in today, it is vital to implement and monitor Change Management within your organisation. An effective way of doing this is by combining a Change Management and Agile Approach, both initiative-led approaches used in managing projects.
What is Change Management in Agile and how does one manage a project within it using the Agile Approach?
Agile is essentially an iterative approach used by project managers. Simply put, it breaks down software into smaller pieces, in a sequence of sessions, which are referred to as ‘Sprints’. It is used by the project managers, for the purpose of improving results for their projects through a promotion of incremental changes, collaboration and interactive work. There are two stages in Agile projects: iterative and cyclical. Once the software has been broken into Sprints, they are then planned, designed, built, tested and reviewed. This is done repeatedly, thus forming a cyclical phase.
There are typically three circumstances through which Agile would be introduced in your organisation. Either, when you do not use either Change Management or an Agile Approach; or when you already use Agile and want to introduce Change Management; and lastly when you already use Change Management and wish to introduce Agile.
How then do Agile and Change Management interact with one another?
There are two possible aspects that are important to consider when both Agile and Change Management are used in your organisation: introducing Agile to the organisation or introducing Change Management in Agile.
In order to establish successful change when using Agile within your organisation, there are three key Change Management interventions: Training, Resistance Management and Reinforcement. These interventions are frequently used to adapt the following areas in Agile environments:
- Integrated project management
- Structured approach
- Delivering training
- Engaging employees
- Engaging managers
- Dedicated resources
- Reinforcing the change
- Managing resistance
Many of these areas involve the people within the organisation. It is vital to manage the people-side in an Agile environment in order to see through its success. Contributors to successfully managing this aspect include:
- Early engagement of the change
- Consistent communication
- Senior leader engagement
- Achievement of early wins
However, nothing comes without its obstacles, especially when implementing change on a large scale. Consistent obstacles that occur on the ‘people-side’ when applying Change Management in an Agile environment include:
- A lack of understanding of Change Management
- Organizational resistance to Agile
- A high volume of incremental change
- Increased pace
- ‘Middle-manger’ resistance
Within a project using Agile, it is essential for Change Management to remain fluid. Aspects such as precision, efficiency, focus, trade-offs, early engagement and balance should all be present for Change Management to be most effective on a project using an iterative approach.