During a recent next-generation packaged application benchmarking project for one of our Tier 1 clients, one point jumped out at us: service providers and product vendors have started moving away from the traditional waterfall approach to an adaptive hybrid agile-waterfall approach while solutioning for packaged application deployments.
Is an Agile-Led Methodology Needed?
You’re probably wondering if an agile-led methodology is necessary, since packaged applications have inbuilt configurations that are aligned to industry best practices. The resounding answer is yes, as packaged apps projects have been victims of scope creep, cost overruns, missed deadlines, objective mismatches, and a host of other issues. A good share of these failures can be attributed to the customization requirements that were built using a traditional implementation approach, which encouraged a siloed and non-continuous way of working.
How is the Hybrid Approach Effective?
The effectiveness of the hybrid approach can be easily gauged through a mix of waterfall and agile-based SLAs and KPIs. We are seeing that using the hybrid waterfall-agile methodology significantly improves traditional packaged apps implementation project SLAs such as defect leakage, defect density, and schedule and cost adherence. And agile KPIs such as velocity rate, work-focus factor, and percent of story-point accuracy help keep track of team productivity, and enable the team to track deviations from standard configurations.
One major adopter of the hybrid approach is SAP, which has refurbished its implementation framework with the introduction of its agile-based Activate methodology for the SAP S/4 HANA suite. While SAP has retained the strong elements of the traditional Accelerated SAP (ASAP) waterfall methodology, it has changed its approach from a template-led long duration blueprinting exercise to a fit-gap analysis for processes configured on a cloud-based solution. Additionally, it no longer runs the realization phase in a linear fashion, wherein testing is performed only after complete configuration or customization is done. Instead, testing resources are onboarded as soon as the sprint starts, and implementation effectiveness is gauged right from the word “go.”
Many service providers and product vendors are also following this same approach in some form and fashion, particularly in the realization phase.
What’s the Value of Shifting to a Hybrid Agile Approach?
It helps enterprises streamline their journey to becoming a truly agile organization, and enables a better end-user experience, as improved SLAs underscore better service delivery. And it helps service providers enhance their brand reputation, capture more business, and shed the tag of being old school and monolithic in their implementation approach.
If you are interested in learning more about the impact of the hybrid waterfall methodology on project timelines, average daily rate, overall TCV, contractual SLAs, and risk alleviation mechanisms, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. You can also visit our Benchmarking page.