Agile Projects

Critical Success Factors For Agiile Projects

Critical success factors for agile projects in companies WHAT MATTERS WHEN INTRO- DUCING AND IMPLEMENTING AGILE PROJECTS

Today, companies are faced with a rapidly changing environment to which they have to adapt flexibly. Technologisation, the increasing complexity and dynamics of markets and rapidly changing customer preferences are the decisive factors. Classic, hierarchically organised corporate and management structures are not designed for this. They are simply not adaptable enough, not dynamic enough, too inflexible and too cost-intensive to survive in increasingly complex competition. Therefore, many companies, which have recognised the pressing signs of the times, are focusing more and more on a change towards agile organisation.

Agile transformation - a holistic challenge for companies

Change processes are mostly implemented top-down in the structures in a classic structural organisation. However, agility requires a dual approach, which not only affects the structures, but above all the management and employee development. The TRAFO model (by Prof. Dr. Fischer) defines six fundamental dimensions:

  • Processes: The processes in the company must shift away from self-purpose towards more customer and need orientation.
  • Organisational structures: Networks are established, pyramid organisations with multiple levels of hierarchy are disappearing more and more.
  • Strategies: The customer also comes back into focus here. Shifting away from the short-term maximisation of profit towards sustainable customer satisfaction and retention.
  • Management: A rethink is required in the management. Managers transform from command givers into service providers.
  • HR tools: Shifting away from classic target definition and career plans towards empowerment, working in teams and assuming responsibility.
  • Culture: The agile corporate culture is characterised by trust, success is rewarded in the form of appreciation and no longer with promotions.

A transformation in the company can only be a sustained success when all dimensions are taken into account.

Success factors for agile process transformation

Each process begins with planning. Agile transformations are a constant change. In order to make these more tangible, Prof. Dr. Fischer defines six critical success factors:

  • Be aware of needs: Agility is not a fashionable complaint, but rather increasingly necessary to survive in the market. Companies should define their reasons for introducing a transformation in their organisation.
  • Define a cultural vision: Vision and culture play an important role. The self-conception of the organisation and its direction of development must be clear.
  • Define teams: Agile transformation starts in the team. Capacities must be created with individual cross-functional team members for this purpose.
  • Create clear framework conditions: The agile pilots require guidelines, within which they can and should develop. This creates trust.
  • Implement: In addition to the team assignment, all six dimensions of agility must be taken into account and used concomitantly.
  • Promote and transform culture: The pilots should be able to share their experiences with all colleagues in the company in the appropriate framework. This should start as early as possible. This ensures that the agile spirit spreads quickly in the organisation.

Against this background, it is clear that companies must always holistically plan and introduce a transformation for increased agility if they want it to succeed.

Everything is possible, nothing is required - Ambidexterity

Time is required for successful transformation processes, which not only affect the structural organisation, but also the culture and the self-conception of the employees. Companies should therefore deal with the agility process cautiously. It is often not necessary to ad-hoc transform the entire company. For example, the Ambidexterity approach provides for the integration of agile elements, methods and principles in classic management systems and organisations. Thus, some company divisions continue to operate according to the conventional, company-specific hierarchy principle. Departments or occasionally project teams, which are faced with rapidly changing customer requirements and short innovation cycles, introduce agile teams and techniques (e.g. SCRUM). In this way, agile work can be tested in a classic organisational structure and – if necessary - gradually rolled out in other company divisions in a controlled manner.

Managers as a central factor for a successful transformation

With regard to agile projects and initial efforts in this direction, it is by no means sufficient to change the structures in the company from top-down. Above all, a change of management understanding is necessary. Agile companies demand an independent, more flexible way of working from their employees, who must be encouraged with trust and motivation. Managers are simultaneously asked to give up their status as command giver and supervisor (at one end of the scale) through to representative and project coordinator (at the other end of the scale). This requires time, willingness to change and not least courage, which must grow through a culture of trust. The comprehensive training of existing managers and the targeted selection of new candidates play a major role in this respect.

If you are looking for experienced managers and specialists, who are familiar with agile work and have already internalised the new culture, we would be happy to provide you with advice. Please contact us at

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