Since agile is based on the idea of collaboration, communication is key and is not something that organizations can overlook when scaling their agile efforts, according to Baruch Sadogursky, developer advocate at JFrog.

“Agile is all about the communication and getting feedback. In order to get rapid feedback, team members and stakeholders need to be able to talk to each other to explain the work, what needs to be done, and what has already been completed,” he said.
If communication channels are not in place, then driving the agile message across the organization is going to be problematic, Sadogursky added. “Organizations need to put more efforts to make the communication channels open in order to maintain the flow of information,” he said.

Having a disconnected information flow is often the source of failed rollouts at scale, according to Steve Elliott, CEO and founder of AgileCraft. “Without a scaled agile platform in place to provide transparency from top to bottom and side to side—or said another way, without transparency from enterprise to portfolio to program to team—it is almost impossible to see progress and target coaching across the enterprise. It’s also difficult to measure the impact of the transformation or the value of the work being done during this phase,” he said.

Organizations should also make sure they are open to an agile mindset, according to Rally’s Hudson. “You need to be prepared to question the efficacy of your standard operating procedures,” she said. “And you need a willingness to inspect, adapt and improve as you go.”
Other organizational and development process changes that need to be in place before scaling include moving from a centralized command-and-control system to a decentralized system, according to Smartling’s Akselrod. A decentralized system can help teams become more in tune with their product.

“On the development side, processes like Continuous Integration, log monitoring, fully automated testing, and push-button deployment must be in place to make technology teams truly agile,” he said.

Finally, organizations need to realize that if they are going to embark on an agile transformation, the transformation will never be completed. According to Hudson, an organization will never be 100% agile because there is always going to be ways they can improve.

“The minute you’re complacent is the minute your competitors begin to close the gap,” she said. “That said, each iteration of the transformation is finished. You bite off small chunks, implement a step toward the desired change, finish, and evaluate it—then look at the results so you can determine the next right step to implement. The goals of enterprise-scale agile aren’t just predictability, performance improvements, quality improvements, and increasing customer happiness; you also need to strive to continuously improve.”

While the task can never be completed, JFrog’s Sadogursky does note that there is a point where organizations can say they are doing it correctly. “Converting or adopting agile is a process. It is not a task that can be completed,” he said. “We can definitely get to some point when we say what we are doing is correct, but it is a very long process and includes joining the new organization all the time, and making the communication channels better.”

If an organization decides to scale agile, they should expect a constant state of learning and improving from that point on, AgileCraft’s Maccherone added. “The entire concept of agile is about trying something out, and then improving based upon feedback from the real world.”