This content originally appeared in TDWI. TDWI members can see the original here.
With so many teams “going agile,” it’s important for your BI team to keep a few things in mind that will help your agile transformation go more smoothly. This series, “10 Mistakes to Avoid in an Agile BI Transformation,” will show you how to prevent the most common pitfalls I’ve encountered in my experience as an Agile Coach.
The BI industry is very tool-driven. As such, we tend to look to vendors to provide solutions to our current challenges. Although this helps the data management industry as a whole to progress, it may give us the false impression that vendors can solve all our problems. Unfortunately, this mindset leads many BI teams to start their agile transformations by implementing a new agile project management (APM) software tool, thinking that the tool will teach them how to “be” agile. What happens more often than not in these situations is the team’s productivity is disrupted while they learn the new tool. In the meantime, they receive none of the benefits they expected from their “agile transformation.”
The impact of thinking the tool will make them agile is that the team still doesn’t understand the practices the tool supports. For example, most APM tools provide the ability to create a record called a story. A team that doesn’t understand agile practices won’t know why agile teams use stories instead of requirements, how to write a good story, or how to ensure each story provides customer value. In this case, the team often just uses their traditional workflow steps (data profiling, modeling, ETL development, etc.) as the basis for the stories they create in their APM tool. Meanwhile, successful agile BI teams create stories that represent the full end-to-end development of small functional results, such as specific metrics that customers can see in BI reports and test with real data.
You can avoid this mistake by investing team time in agile education. You will want to design a new way of working together that will meet the number one priority for agile teams. The Agile Manifesto says, “Satisfy your customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable [BI results].” Once the team has a shared understanding of why and how they will be doing things differently, team members will be able to benefit from software intended to organize their agile workflow.