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Business and IT Collaboration
Technology and software are shaping industries and transforming the way business is done. As organizations evolve, business leaders are increasingly recognizing that continuous learning and responsiveness thrive only on collaboration and business engagement.
The Agile Manifesto emphasizes value on customer collaboration, specifically consistent interaction of the customer with the product at every phase of the development lifecycle. When used effectively, Agile frameworks can improve collaboration between leaders, managers, end-users and the development team. True agility enables business processes and engagement throughout the development process, resulting in the production and delivery of successful products that help end-users do their jobs better.
What is Effective Collaboration?
- Continuous Interaction: in Agile approaches, the top measure of product success is whether it meets user / customer needs. Regardless of what the development team builds, a product without engaged users is a failure. To this end a common understanding between business leaders and team members is required to ensure the requirements clarification and prioritization process is an ongoing team effort. Effective Agile product development and project management relies on bidirectional communication. Business leaders and technology teams need to interact on a daily basis throughout the project / product development lifecycle.
- Enabling Environments: business leaders and technology teams need environments that facilitate communication and create constant feedback loops. This becomes more imperative in cases where team members and key project players are geographically dispersed. The organization will also need to invest in the relevant technology / tools that enable the technology team to effectively communicate and deliver faster to the business needs.
- Leadership by Engagement: leadership and senior management support agility and collaboration practices through making the organizational and cultural changes and actively participating in projects to bring business units, IT, and customers together as a team.
Collaboration Tools and Techniques
Supporting an organization’s move towards agility needs technological tools that minimize siloes and drive change in the organization. There are various tools and techniques that can be used to ensure business users are involved throughout the entire project lifecycle. Some noteworthy examples of Agile approaches and tools are highlighted below.
Agile Meetings and Activities
There are a number of regular activities and meetings that take place among Agile Team members and stakeholders that emphasize collaboration and the flexibility to adapt to changing business realities. Each meeting/activity in Agile methodologies has a specific purpose and multiple benefits. Below are some examples on how customers and business units can ensure engagement within Agile teams:
- Participating in product demonstrations
- Reviewing and providing timely feedback and business decisions,
- Clarifying requirements on ongoing basis
- Ensuring appropriate removal of team impediments.
- Performing user acceptance tests
- Approving changes to requirements, etc.
Organizations are faced with the challenges to support distributed workers, attract global and mobile talent and connect a worldwide ecosystem of customers and project teams. A wide variety of software products are available for organizations to choose from, inline with their needs and unique organizational culture. To this end, technology resources need to support constant mobility, real-time, quality and reliable collaboration. Some examples of the top collaboration tools will provide organizations with the ability to:
- Manage requirements and collaborate, real-time on documents/prototyping - example software include ActiveColab, mind mapping software such as FreeMind, Visio, Google Drive, etc.
- Virtual prioritization, tasking, and visually track status in an agile environment - top available tools include JIRA, Rally, VersionOne, Trello, etc.