Agility in Delivery

  • Published on: 25 September 2017
  • By: Lesley Michaelis

In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed
- Charles Darwin

For me, this great quote describes some of the basic ways of working aligned to agile.

The speed of technical change is driven by aspects such as social media, big data, cloud-based technology and mobile. Everything is moving at an incredible pace and this provides the catalyst for driving better customer outcomes across all industries. These trends are driving companies to innovate and differentiate themselves from similar companies in order to maintain their competitive edge. Underpinning all of these trends in technology, flexibility, speed to market and agility is the key to moving forward and gaining this competitive edge.

For many organisations, it can appear that moving to an agile development methodology is a necessity in order to survive, deliver an accelerated increased business value and provide better customer outcomes, whilst maintaining a profitable business model.

However, Agile is not just a technology methodology / delivery method that can solely be adopted by IT,   it brings with the need for organisational transformation and embraces the culture and principles of collaboration, adaptive, continuous learning and being responsive to change. A truly effective “agile delivery” will break down the barriers between IT, the business and suppliers and is all about one team creating and developing something that brings business value to all. The key question is how do you go about doing that and does it really bring the benefits that it promises?

In my work, I come across many organisations seeking an application development partner to enhance their own delivery potential. Increasingly, one of the most important requirements in partner selection is the ability to deliver an agile methodology or to help the customer move to an agile delivery method.

Sourcing a partner to deliver in this way is completely different. Taking into consideration a key requirement of working together as “one team”, brings into question the value and appropriateness of launching a traditional RFP process. Cultural alignment, collaboration and the ability to work together are vital for an effective agile team. Therefore, workshop-based RFPs, practical examples and the all-important collective working are activities essential to the success of choosing the right partner. Meeting and getting to know the delivery teams are crucial aspects to being successful long term and delivering the necessary business value.

Secondly, how do you contract and what are the deliverables? There is no “scope of work” as such; it is much more about how you work together as a team, the skills, personalities, ability to work in a flexible and collaborative way and the value each member of the team will bring. Then you have the pricing – fixed price against deliverables just does not fit, so potentially you end up with T&M and rate cards and all the potential issues that these bring to the mix. As regards measurement, productivity improvements, metrics and performance, how do you ensure value realisation and continuous improvement from the supplier?

There are no easy answers to these questions at the present time. In our role as Sourcing Advisor, Quantum Plus has some emerging models and innovative ideas that we have developed with our clients through various pioneering engagements in this emerging area, to enable them to be set up for success and we are also working alongside many other organisations to build on ideas.

Agile is actually about a different way of working for all parties (customer and supplier) and needs to break down the barriers between business, IT, supplier and customer. It is all about working as one team to achieve a common goal. A mature and effective partner relationship needs to underpin the entire relationship. Equally, how do you ensure that you are getting value for money from your suppliers or do you not have to worry about these things because the business value that the “team” is creating far outweighs what you may gain elsewhere? Embracing these new concepts and ways of working is a journey of transformation for all.

If you would like to have a discussion about any of these topics,  please do contact us on 01789 201630 or by email at