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Four Agile and Business Transformation Trends Every Business Leader Should Keep an Eye on in 2018

As we approach the end of this year, we would like to warmly thank all our readers and followers. 2017 has been an eventful year for us. We launched swarmOS and initial range of add-ons for Jira. We had lots of positive feedback from our first customers as well as from the Atlassian community which we met at this year’s Atlassian Summit in San Jose. But now we are looking to the future – what trends and developments can we expect in the Agile and Business Transformation world in the coming year?

1. Agility as a Holistic Approach

Project teams love Agile and Scrum. According to a study by the Project Management Institute, 71 percent of all project organizations rely on agile principles. This is a trend that we’ve been observing for some time: Agility is turning into a holistic approach for the entire business. Terms such as backlog, epic and retrospective are no longer nerdy words that only software developers use, but they have made their way into the vocabulary of modern business leaders.

From strategic planning to development and implementation, Agility is an integrative approach in all organizational disciplines. Holistic agility approaches encompass the entire value stream of a business and help break up the silo-like separation of people, process and tools. Agility is becoming mainstream! If you want to learn more about how to move from strategy to execution, we recommend having a look at our new swarmOS Cookbook for organizations using Jira and Confluence.

2. Agile Reaches the Boardroom

In a recent study conducted by Forbes Insights, 92 percent of the 500 top executives surveyed say that Agility is the key to their company’s long-term success. Linked to this is the necessity for those at C-level to be informed in greater detail and in a timely manner about the Agility status of their organization.

Agile is reaching the boardroom and Agile toolsets will become more suitable for management. For example, just as SAP introduced a Digital Boardroom a while back in order to provide C-level executives with clearly prepared analysis data and business KPIs, so providers like Atlassian are also making their Agile toolsets boardroom ready. Jira add-ons such as our swarmOS Cockpit already provide a one-click overview across the company’s entire project portfolio.

3. Portfolio Management becomes Agile

Apropos portfolio management – we have already spoken about the need for a cross-project agile approach in this blog post. As individual teams manage their projects using Agile and Scrum, we expect there to be an agility-push at portfolio level in 2018. And it is urgently needed: If up to 70 percent of all transformation projects still fail, as McKinsey found out, then there is a clear need for action.

One of the main reasons why projects fail is that project-related decisions are made far too late. Project managers are too cautious and fail to pull the plug in time when a project threatens to fail – and executives often lack the information they need.

A successful portfolio management approach for 2018 could look like this: Organizations initially accept that a certain proportion of projects always fail. However, agile cross-project portfolio management, in which portfolio managers actively manage the entire project portfolio like a project backlog, will enable businesses to achieve a significantly better success record.

4. Focus on Business & Customer Value

According to the State of Agile Report, 46 percent of respondents consider business value to be one of Agile’s most important success factors. Executives reckon that only projects that have a direct impact on sales and customer loyalty can be deemed really successful. Agile approaches in 2018 will have to align themselves with and measure up to this requirement even more than before.

The aim of Agile and Scrum is to develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in short sprints and to always be geared towards customer requirements – with the ultimate aim of delivering measurable customer value. However, according to the State of Agile Report, only 23 percent of the organizations surveyed are in a position to quantify and regularly report on this business and customer value. For this reason, the following major topic should be at the top of your Agile agenda 2018: Creating added value and making it visible throughout your organization.