Making the Case for Agile Using $$$ and Real-World Examples?

Last post 07:00 am April 30, 2019
by Henri van der Horst
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03:41 pm April 25, 2019

I've been in the Agile world (formally) for 11 years now, and I have yet to see any presentations that really speak to upper management (VPs, C-level, etc) about the benefits of Agile. This would be a presentation that shows the OpEx and CapEx benefits, uses tangible examples with $$ values saved or gained based on switching to Agile or the Scrum process. All I ever see is "it's a mindset and you have to buy into it" which is true. No Agile 'transformation' happens without buy in, but to get that buy in, we need to present in a way that uses the language they current understand. 

Saying things like "Servant-leadership allows teams to be more autonomous, so they own decisions, and consequently are more passionate about their work. Since they are more passionate they product higher-quality products" - NOT A COMPELLING ANSWER for them. So, does someone have a presentation or slide-deck (there's got to be one out there) that shows $$$ recapture, budget savings, bottom/top line growth etc from real world data of companies that have fully embraced agility? Surely, I cannot be the only one who has thought to put something like this together to make the case for Agile more tangible to traditional management to understand and get on board with?

06:29 pm April 25, 2019

You are not the only one that has thought of it but I have failed when I tried to create it. And I have never seen one either.  One of the big problems I have always been confronted with is the access to the actual data that would be needed to build it.  There is so much data to take into account I have yet to come up with a good way to analyze, present it.  I exceed my financial skills trying. 

It would be very nice to see an example from someone with more financial and executive level experience than I have.

Great request.  Hope there is someone that can provide some kind of answer. 

01:28 am April 26, 2019

The conversations I have tend to be more brutal than that. The case for agility boils down to their organizations surviving or not surviving.

08:53 am April 26, 2019

This is indeed something that happens regularly and indeed, like Ian mentioned, about survival. What I see a lot is that it becomes a goal to become Agile, instead of surviving in itself and Agile is just a tool to make sure that this happens. The "why" behind business agility is being overlooked, and (higher) management not comprehending what Agile is/does/implies etc is a huge problem. 

I'm currently working for a super high-tech company that was just fiddling around until about 7 years ago, after which they thought they finally "should give that project management a try". Like classic project management. But then they discovered competitors were closing in, because they are a lot more agile then themselves. So in the, besides aaallll the relevant arguments of indeed happier employees, less defects, higher quality etc etc, it boiled down to either we're doing this or we're gonna lose our place in the market/shut down in the longer term.

02:26 pm April 26, 2019

I've never actually had to have those kind of conversations although I've worked a couple of places where they would have been good to have.  When I've attempted I was always shrugged off as "yeah, we know what we are doing better than you".  And that was because while I embrace the agile ways, I was never recognized for it until recently.  I watched a video where Ken Schwaber said something to the effect of "when Scrum was created you it would make you ahead of everyone else.  Now if you aren't using it you are going to fall behind."  I've tried to use those arguments before and was always put off by not being able to show proof.  Granted that was several years ago and every where I've worked since has used some agile practices while not really understanding that they were.  I've had success introducing more and they have been recognized as improvements.

But as I venture into the phase of my journey I hope to be able to influence more and at a higher level on a frequent basis.  I appreciate what @Ian and @Sander said because it helps me feel that I at least have the base information to get involved in the conversations and if I need I help, I know I can always come back here. 

Again, @Yoda thanks for starting this thread.  I do look forward to hearing from more people that have experienced this. 

02:53 pm April 26, 2019

I had a meeting with Cignity the other day (I know, I know) where they said that they had metrics and numbers around that with case studies to make that clear, so we'll see what they come back with.

And Ian - I am with you, I have tried the 'why do I need to make a case, when we can just look around us at other companies' approach, and that hasn't worked. When I said 'We need to embrace Agile from top to bottom or we may not exist as a competitor in the market in 5-10 years' I get all nods and agreement, but then leaders go back to what they know (command and control, shuffling people around teams constantly, Directors telling Developers directly what to work on circumventing POs, SMs being treated as Dev Managers or PMOs, etc).

02:04 pm April 29, 2019

If they all agree with you and they want to continue being seen as leader, have you ever tried to persuad them to go on training? Like the PAL-E, for instance? That should give them something to think about and to reflect on themselves.

02:18 pm April 29, 2019

What's the difference between PAL (Scrum.org) and CAL (Scrum Alliance)? Same content, just different orgs or is there a fundamental paradigm difference in what Scrum vs ScrumAlliance teaches? Neither are a non-profit anymore, so I know that's the same.

02:27 pm April 29, 2019

I have no clue. To be honest, I stopped looking at SA a long time ago, because I think their model, passing grade and make sure certified people stay on a good level of knowledge is rubbish.

07:00 am April 30, 2019

What's the difference between PAL (Scrum.org) and CAL (Scrum Alliance)?

Scrum Alliance usually requires you to donate $100 every two years or you lose your certification. Apparently being able to pay means you still know what you are doing.