Monday, September 9, 2013

Business and IT Alignment: Turning Agility into a Reality

About five years ago, Aarons Inc. a lease-to-own retailer that focuses on leases and retail sales of furniture, electronics, appliances and computers, was growing faster than anyone projected. So, the company decided to go through an agile transformation.

Ultimately, the company was missing the critical business and IT alignment in their project management. It was missing an agreement on priorities, a common understanding, the culture change taking place and even the adoption of agile.

“We had to find those core missing requirements and fill the miss holes,” explained Robert Woods, IT Project Manager, Agile Coach/Trainer, Aaron’s Inc., at PW&WCBA 2013 this afternoon in the Agile Summit. 

Woods and his team sat down explained the agile transformation process, the ROI, the team engagement, stakeholder management, etc. According to Woods, these were all key things that management at Aarons Inc. didn’t know they actually had to be involved in.

“The agile transformation world: a world where every team is thrilled to be working with each other. I’ve never seen this place before, but I hear it exists and we want to get as close as we can,” he commented.
The idea of an agile transformation world is an idea that project managers and business analysts try hard to aspire to, but it unfortunately doesn’t always work out that way.

“So, we have to take steps to find the core items that we are missing from a project stand point,” said Woods.

As it turns out, he and his team found that Aarons Inc. needed a team facilitator, a more servant leadership which is different from the people coming from a project management history.

“It was a hard change for some of them,” Woods added. The team facilitator must be a conflict resolution specialist because a lot of different types of people are working together trying to “make magic happen,” so there is bound to be conflict.

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA in New York City, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 

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