Selling Agile across the Enterprise

You’ve started on Agile project. You've probably got IT management on board. You've read the manifesto. You've got a wall covered in post-its. You’re probably not using pair programming but you’re following most other Scrum and XP practices. But now you have a problem. Operations, HR and finance can’t keep up. Ops is having problems (or just refusing to) deploy each iteration. HR won’t let you form self-organising teams and don't know how to write KPI’s to support collaborative work practices. And finance wants a 3 year budget with fully costed initiatives.

Like many cultural problems, change comes from understanding. This presentation will explain how non-IT business functions operate and why they have legitimate problems with Agile delivery.

We won’t stop there however.

By understanding your business, this presentation will provide you with the tools you need to align your corporate business functions to your agile development approach. From improved communication integrated sales, rolling budgets, agile KPI’s and aligning to revenue drivers. You will learn how to build a truly agile organization.

Learning Outcomes

  • How corporate functions work the way they do
  • How to communicate with corporate functions and help them understand Agile
  • How to sell agility across the organisation



There is a natural evolution to business agility. This is the precept behind everything I’ve learnt over the last 10+ years in applying agile across the business. From this, I’ll be showing how IT can help non-IT business functions support an agile delivery model. That is, as an agile practitioner in IT, how can you position agile in such a way as to get the support of the wider business in its adoption. Ultimately, in cases of high agile maturity, this can extend into developing agile business practices across the organisation outside of IT (although that is not the main thrust of this presentation).

This is intended to be a practical discussion on how organisations operate. There are three parts to the presentation (roughly a third of the presentation will be spent on each).

Section 1. A high level overview of the way non-IT business functions work and why

  • How does Finance operate, and why do we have to deal with the dreaded annual budget cycle?
  • What does HR do and why can’t they keep up?
  • Why do the sales team oversell to our customers leaving us to fix up their mess?
  • Why do we have to fill in so many forms to release to production?

Section 2. How agile can align to these functions, and how they can align to agile

  • Applying agile to Finance through the use of rolling budgets, financial transparency and opex vs capex (I promise I’ll make capex interesting)
  • Applying agile to HR through by helping them develop agile KPI’s and recruitment strategies as well as giving them access to agile tools (such as Kanban) to help streamline their processes
  • Aligning the sales cycle with the development cycle
  • From “small changes” to devops

Section 3. Communication strategies that participants can take back to their organisation to bridge the gap between IT and the rest of the business

  • Preemptive agile alignment
  • Introduction to negotiation strategies and tactics
  • Using conflict resolution strategies to defuse business silos.

I will ensure there is ample time for Q/A during the presentation.


Selling agile across the enterprise from Evan Leybourn