It’s hard to imagine a senior IT decision-maker not having concerns about long term projects right now. In recent times, IT projects have changed and shelved; teams re-focussed on supporting remote work, and financial recovery initiatives and budgets reassessed.
This disruption can be perceived as clear evidence of the need for being more Agile: “COVID shows that there's no longer space for multi-year projects running on top of a waterfall approach. Quicker and constant results is a must,” argues Felipe Rubim, Vice President Asia Pacific at digital solutions multinational CI&T, which lists Coca-Cola, Nestlé, KDDI, Bank of the West, Carrefour and Johnson & Johnson as clients.
Rubim’s view of what makes a successful approach to digital projects has been informed by his experiences during the last 12 months. Last year, CI&T announced a push into the Australian market, and it has been working with clients on digital projects throughout the pandemic. Rubim sees room for improvement when it comes to Agile IT.
“There’s a significant amount of resources, including training courses, consultants, reports, trend analyses and related that reinforce the need for the organisations to be doing Agile. But are you BEING agile in your strategic planning? It’s so much more than (doing) scrums, sprints, and technology,” Rubim comments.
What is lacking in his view is attention to the people and processes that go with IT.
“Often we see that it’s not the technological aspect of digital projects that fail – there’s a lot related to the people aspect and how the organisation and leadership are connected to the technical team implementing a solution,” he says.
The move to remote working has pushed these issues to the fore. In 2020, IT shops at Telstra, AMP, ING and other companies spoke publicly about widening their search for talent to include remote workers.
“I think working-from-anywhere has been a fundamental lesson for leaders – really reinventing the way organisations collaborate and innovate. How can you best enable people to have social discussions and ‘create’ remotely?” Rubim asks.
He encourages clients to look closer at how their teams work together remotely, especially on new ideas.
“You need a balance. For example, get people together once a month and make people feel welcome to join such gatherings. Think about how to create a fair and flexible remote working policy,” he says.
That policy, and the cybersecurity and governance mechanisms that make it possible, should be viewed in terms of access to global talent and ideas, in Rubim’s view.
Workforce diversity is also relevant, he argues. “If you want to stand out as an organisation and tap into the best talent, having a diversity and inclusion policy is the right thing to do.
We know that the more diversity there is, the richer, more innovative your mindset is. I think that has to be on the agenda for leaders,” he argues.
He encourages to think about how decision-makers will make new ways of working stick.
“If you want to see change adopted – a new modus operandi, a new way of doing things that spreads out across your teams and department – it has to start with you as a leader,” Rubim opines. “Fundamental change will happen after that, rather than through training or different soft ways of conveying a message of cultural change,” he argues.
It is a message IT leaders have heard before and will no doubt hear again in 2021.