How Agile Methodology Frameworks Are Used as Collaborative Tools Connecting Business and IT

    January 18, 2017
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    By Steve Mason

    As modern businesses experience rapid growth, agile methodologies can help promote collaboration between IT and business development professionals.  

    Collaboration is often touted as the key to success. Unfortunately, teams within some growing organizations can fall prey to a “siloed” mentality in which staff members concentrate only on those tasks for which they are responsible, creating barriers between their work and that of other departments. While the tendency to work independently is not bad in and of itself, departmental silos can negatively impact business outcomes. According to Forbes, “The more moving parts required to get work done, the more chance there is of creating confusion...variance, and other inefficiencies.”

    IT professionals in particular need to be able to work quickly and integrate seamlessly with the other departments in their organizations, as the rest of the business depends on IT to make day-to-day operations possible. It’s therefore in the interest of business leadership to actively promote collaboration between IT professionals and their coworkers, and one key avenue through which they can do so is agile methodology.

    Agile Methodology as Collaborative Tool

    The agile method for project management was designed to help teams and departments in “responding to the unpredictability of constructing software” through incremental, repetitive work and empirical feedback. As such, agile methodology has been shown to promote collaboration by “stress[ing] the benefits of working with cross-functional teams to encourage strong communication between business owners” and “promot[ing] frequent and face-to-face communication between all team members.”

    For example, developers using this methodology will tackle software issues by sitting down with testers to try to recreate and resolve them. This approach differs from the traditional method of making records of bugs in the program with a defect tracking tool and fixing them months later through an update or patch, minimizing the time before users are able to experience a bug-free version.

    When applied to IT, agile method solutions set up frameworks in which developers can work with product testers, business analysts, and industry experts. All this time spent communicating and collaborating with other departments allows IT to get a better understanding of high-level and goals across the organization, as well as how they can help to achieve them.

    Applying Agile Method Solutions

    Collaborative delivery environments (CDEs) and collaborative application lifecycle management (CALM) are two excellent examples of these agile method frameworks that facilitate teamwork and interdepartmental connection.

    CDEs are virtual spaces designed for the purpose of brainstorming, discussing, and sharing knowledge across teams in order to accomplish certain tasks. These spaces must be built to be user-friendly so that teams can easily track any changes made by their team members without relying on external support. These are particularly useful when teams work across different locations and time zones, but even for teams all working in the same office, CDEs are helpful environments that allow for collaboration without the need to constantly schedule meetings. It’s particularly useful for IT issues — if an employee is stuck on a technical problem, a CDE makes it easy for him to notify IT and receive a speedy resolution.

    CALM, on the other hand, “focuses on synchronization [of activities], hand-streamlined development processes, and preventing chaos among team members.” While CDE allows for communication over time and distance, CALM is geared towards real-time interactions that help move the process of IT optimization along. These systems typically accomplish their intended purpose through instant messaging, notification alerts, and the assignment of individual tasks, helping organizations “apply distinct CALM approaches dependent on their specific needs.”

    Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at University of Surrey Alan W. Brown has argued that CALM is particular useful in the technical sphere, noting that it allows teams to “cluster around functional areas such as requirements management, design, code, test, etc. There is interaction around artifacts and processes.”

    Agile frameworks like CALM and CDE break down silos in your organization by encouraging shared responsibility for given tasks, but IT remains a complex field that can be difficult to explain to the uninitiated. Vityl Dashboard, recently ranked first in Critical Capabilities for Infrastructure and Operations Business Value Dashboards by the world's leading IT research firm, is ideal for translating the difficult language of IT into terms that business leaders can understand. Vityl Dashboard puts complex IT metrics in perspective for executives by explaining how they relate to the company’s bottom line, making it easier to justify IT spend and promote the department’s role as a driver of value, not a cost center.

    As globalization, outsourced or remote workers, and mobile platforms all become more commonplace in the business world, businesses need to adopt agile approaches that will facilitate collaboration with IT.