Managing Change in Agile Development Environment

If you’ve been around the IT world very much, you’re familiar with the concept of using an Agile methodology to drive system changes. The Agile methodology offers organizations a different way to develop and deploy software – giving an opportunity to work incrementally and seek feedback in cycles and deploy functionality a bit at a time.

The goal is to deploy in pieces and get immediate feedback from the business users on how it works and take it from there.

Of course, this is a GREATLY simplified view; here’s a good description.

How do you adjust your approach in an agile world when you’re getting users ready for change?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Shift your mindset. Instead of a traditional systems development cycle, think of this work as a change “sprint” that parallels the scrum team’s work. Plan to do a mini-cycle of stakeholder identification, engagement, impact assessment, communication and training in a quick, flexible way for each cycle. You can still plan to drive a broader set of sponsor and stakeholder communications across the life of the program, but most of the emphasis of your effort will be on your short cycle work.
  • Identify your stakeholders help them shift their mindset too. Set the expectation that their engagement will be ongoing, but they will only dive in to the right sessions at the right time where their input/ expertise is needed. Remind them that the end goal is the same but the way you’ll get there is going to feel/ look different.
  • Scope your impacts quickly for each cycle. Identify impacts by asking all the right questions about what processes, reports, interfaces, hand-offs, etc. are impacted by the system changes. Don’t assume that back-end technical or data changes won’t have user impacts. Grab a set in the scrum meetings to learn what’s happening and what it will change each time.
  • Create a stakeholder engagement & communications plan and execute on it right away. Since there aren’t the long months of development which give you time to build and deliver your messages, you’ll need to come up with a short summary of the “what/why/how” and deliver that message quickly to your impacted stakeholders and users.
  • Train in a flexible, simple way. Find a way to utilize technology and tools to deliver just-in-time training through videos, short-burst explanations, recorded webinars with screenshots, etc. Make it short, easy to access and simple.

Sheri Browning is a Partner at PeopleResults. You can reach her at or on Twitter @sbPResults.