Experience of building Agile Center of Excellence (CoE) for organization-wide Agile maturity

When any organization plans to move to Agile methodology, it needs to plan multiple initiatives for successful transition. One of the important initiative would be building an Agile Center of Excellence, a team which would support for consistency of Agile implementation across the organization. The Agile CoE we built worked on multiple aspects such as:

  • Defining organization-wide Agile methodology, tailoring it as per organization environment if required
  • Build knowledge of Agile across the organization
  • Supporting the team members with any ongoing queries
  • Support in building required Tools and Templates required implementing Agile
  • Assessing Agile implementation of different projects, identifying any gaps or improvement areas

This session would cover practical experience of how we built a successful Center of Excellence, which become a big enabler for successful Agile transformation.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

  • What is Agile Center of Excellence
  • What is difference between Agile CoE and CoP (Communities of Practice)?
  • The charter we had for Agile CoE
  • What are the areas that are handled by CoE?
  • Experience of building a successful CoE
  • What worked / What did not work?
  • Guidelines for building a successful CoE

Learning Outcome

  • How to develop Agile Center of Excellence in any organization, to support organization-wide Agile transformation initiative
  • The success criteria for CoE
  • Benefits for building Agile CoE

Target Audience

Anyone interested in strengthening Agile environment in their organization

schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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  • Naresh Jain
    By Naresh Jain  ~  2 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Rahul,

    Thanks for the proposal. I know many companies are struggling to setup an effective CoE, so this would be really important topic. However the proposal itself does not say much about your experience. Is there a blog or article where I can read more about your experience? I'm interested to know:

    • What was the objective/charter of the CoE?
    • How did you go about creating, scaling and sustaining the CoE?
    • Current state of your CoE?
    • Challenges faced and how did you resolve them?
    • Has the CoE achieved its objectives? If yes, how did you guys measure that? If no, what is missing?
    • Next steps

    Thank you.

    • Rahul
      By Rahul  ~  2 years ago
      reply Reply
      • Challenges faced and how did you resolve them?
        • First and bigger challenge was to work with team members with completely waterfall mindset and who had firm belief that Agile would not work in 'our' environment, which requires compliance and long testing cycles. We started with common Agile overview CoE sessions, so that everyone has same understanding of Agile and some of myths (like Agile means no documentation, design etc) were handled. Then we had multiple discussions with these team members to understand their apprehentions or inputs and then discussed how those concerned would be addressed with right Agile implementation
        • Another challenge 'is' (it still continues) related with different teams having different environments (read as dynamics or politics :) ) and different pace of moving with Agile. For this, we have build Agile Maturity Model, which provides guidelines to teams on moving to next level of Agile maturity gradually. CoE did not enforce this maturity model on team and teams used it as self-assessment tool rather Audit by external party.
      • Has the CoE achieved its objectives? If yes, how did you guys measure that? If no, what is missing?
        • Nope, the CoE has not achieved its objectives yet. We have defined a target of getting a defined percentage of overall teams on Agile (since in our environments, teams are part of different verticles and hence have different adoption plans, its not one single enterprise wide Top-Down adoption) and we are close to that target, but it is not completely achieved yet and it just helps us in getting teams to start Agile consistently across the projects.
        • We have defined a set of quantitative (like cycle time, CoE membership, Total teams following Agile against the target, Agile Maturity Level of those teams etc.)  and qualitative measures (Value delivered by the team with Agile adoption, Product Owner satisfaction of the features delivered) for measuring the outcome of Agile CoE.
      • Next steps
        • Next steps are to support all the teams to move to next level of Agile Maturity & Program/Portfolio level Agile adoption.
        • Continue to share best practices (like Acceptance Test Driven Development) followed by one team with all the other team members.
        • Build a mechanism where Agile CoE will run on its own with a pool of volunteers and leaders.
        • Continue to use tools like Collaboration Games, Agile Quiz/Crossword, Online and on-demand trainings and Tools integration for further enhance Agile transformation.
    • Rahul
      By Rahul  ~  2 years ago
      reply Reply

      Adding inputs on the specific points:

      • What was the objective/charter of the CoE?
        • Objective of our Agile CoE is to:
          • Develop understanding of Agile methodology within the organization
          • Build a platform, where team members can share their practical experiences of Agile adoption within their project
          • Provide a forum, where team memebrs can share their queries or challenges faced, while implementing Agile
          • Provide Tools, Integrations and Templates to support Agile adoption
      • How did you go about creating, scaling and sustaining the CoE?
        • We started with a core group, consisting of Agile evangalist within the organization as well as Agile coaches
        • Once the basic skeleton was formed, we invited participation from different team members in the organization
        • The next step was a formal Launch of Agile CoE, with the entire organization, which covered charter of CoE and how it would support the Agile adoption in the organization
        • For scaling, we invited nominations and identified volunteers for different areas like Tools, Integrations, Testing, Product Management, Newsletter, Events etc.
        • With these volunteers and core group, we defined a frequency of CoE events
        • We are ensuring sustenance, with a team of volunteers driving different areas and continuing the momentum
      • Current state of your CoE?
        • The CoE is fully operational for last few months and conducting many successful activities like:
          • Agile overview sessions
          • Detailed Agile training, role specific (like Scrum Master, Product Owners, Sr. Management team)
          • Agile CoE newsletter
          • Regular cadence of CoE seminars
          • Agile Innovation Games, to build understanding of Agile, Scrum, Lean, Kanban concepts
          • Developed integrations with Requirement management tool, Agile project management tool and Test management tool
          • Developing templates, best practices and process guidelines as needed by the team members
          • Developed a collaborative platform, where team members are sharing their experiences as well as queries
    • Rahul
      By Rahul  ~  2 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Naresh,

      First of all, thanks for your inputs. I have covered mindset aspects that we are dealing with, through our Agile CoE in a webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00SY1W374hA and some of the challenges in a session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=779QnHBUfIU

      Regards,

      Rahul.

      • Naresh Jain
        By Naresh Jain  ~  2 years ago
        reply Reply
        Thanks Rahul. Those videos are pretty long. Is there a blog or article I can quickly read thru?
  • HARISH HONWAD
    By HARISH HONWAD  ~  2 years ago
    reply Reply

    Agree this is a good topic. For senior leadership usually the question is how to derive / measure business value of the CoE or practice. Request you to kindly touch upon this aspect during your proposal.

    • Rahul
      By Rahul  ~  2 years ago
      reply Reply

      Thanks for your inputs Harish, yep, I would be covering business value of CoE in the session.

  • Evan Leybourn
    By Evan Leybourn  ~  2 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Rahul, 

    This is a good topic. A couple of questions;

    • Will you be sharing an example of a CoE charter? 
    • Will you be expanding on the distinctions between formal CoEs and informal Communities of Practice?
    • In your opinion, what is the organisational relationship between a CoE and the Agile Teams (particularly a Scrum Master if that role exists)

    Thanks

    • Rahul
      By Rahul  ~  2 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Evan,

      Thanks for your feedback & questions.

      Yep, I would be sharing the charter we developed for our Agile CoE. I would also share different school of throughts on communities of practices vs. center of excellence and what makes sense in building right Agile environment. I would also share how we can identify the difference made by CoE and how it is contributing the overall organizational transformation objective.

       

       

      • Rahul
        By Rahul  ~  2 years ago
        reply Reply

        Agile community of practice team would be comprised of practitioners from different project teams. This can be an excellent platform for teams to share their experiences with each other, share what is working and not working for them, sharing any unique processes, practices developed by different teams etc.

        I will also share various activities that can be conducted by CoE and actual expamples of how we developed such an environment in different scenarios like Product based company, Services based company, startup etc.


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