With the fast pace of change in the communications industry, telecom operators need to adapt at lightning speed to stay ahead of the game and serve their customers better. However the pace of change is so fast, that the operators find themselves in a constant state of transformation – upgrading, overhauling and even replacing their IT infrastructure and systems much more frequently than they are used to.
The promise of a successful transformation is the competitive advantage that the new system would provide, however many times it pushes the organization to its limit in terms of resources, skills and comfort levels.
A study done by the Boston consulting group in 2005 discovered that success or failure is essentially a combination of the following:
source : http://www.bcgindia.com/documents/file14474.pdf
The study was done in 2005 for around 200 transformation efforts in telecommunications and other industries, but I would say the findings are as much relevant today and the industry many times is struggling with the same challenges.
However the last 10 years have seen revolutions in software development processes and methodologies that allow us to address these challenges much better. Especially noteworthy is the Agile software development methodology which allows us the tools to meet some of the above challenges in a successful manner.
Scrum in its essence is a simple framework that cuts through the complexity and brings focus on building software that is aligned to the dynamic business needs. Scrum teams are expected to deliver software incrementally and empirically. Scrum allows us the opportunity to break the bigger transformation effort into smaller milestones that are more frequent – and measurable against business outcomes. The incremental and iterative approach allows accelerated learning and the ability to implement those learnings for increasingly better outcomes as we move through the transformation.
Adaptive and incremental planning at several levels allows us to keep the focus on the big picture over the longer term horizon, yet detailed visibility on the deliverables in the short term. Not detailing everything upfront allows us to pivot and adapt as per the evolving situation in business and our learnings.
The incremental approach means that the business and operations teams are working at any point of time on smaller deliveries for the newer system instead of figuring out the entire change upfront. This allows them to have continued focus on the transformation initiative while simultaneously being able to support the existing operations and not causing an overload which typically hampers either of the processes – either the new initiative or the existing operations.
The frequent customer demos and incremental deliveries are great as they allows the business to validate that the software meets their current and changing needs. Not just that every successful delivery that is typically happening at 2-4 weeks interval increases the confidence in the ability of the project team to deliver on its commitment.
Agile, Scrum and related methodologies / technologies are laying a solid foundation for any enterprise to ensure that the transformation is successful and allowing the tools to ensure there is early feedback to take corrective measure in time and not be surprised (and sometimes shocked) at the end as is typical in long cycles.
It is only a matter of time when Agile mode of delivery will be a de facto norm for any scale of transformation project.