The Agile Tribe

Who said a CFO can’t be Agile!

on January 8, 2010

Author: Byron Costas

I work in a Chief Financial Office (CFO) as an analyst within a technology services business unit, where Agile has been adopted as the principal project management methodology. Our CFO made the conscious decision that we as a division should also adopt Agile principles in order for us to better understand our internal clients and their business.

  • We have real-time portable big visual charts depicting our complete program of work; i.e. pieces of work from Concept through to the Deliver/Deploy stage;
  • We have daily stand-ups, which have proven to be invaluable in meeting reporting deadlines;
  • We do retrospectives for major pieces of work;
  • We have embraced other Agile and Lean techniques such as MoSCoW;
  • We have actively undertaken Agile training with the Agile Academy (I’ve already completed 4 courses myself and aim to do more); and
  • We have great leadership support.

The biggest realisation for me was that Agile is more about the people rather than strictly a project management methodology and its fundamental principles are equally applicable to technical or non-technical environments. I’ve seen firsthand what using Agile tools and techniques can do i.e. make a great team become an even higher performing one.

We are all aware of what’s happening around us; who is responsible and accountable for a piece of work; and assist each other wherever possible. This has resulted in mutual and trust; fostering an environment of honesty and transparency.

It has not all gone smoothly of course but with mutual recognition and belief in the success that Agile brings, a momentum for positive change and value-add has continued to build. This working philosophy has also extended to the creation of a Passion Board, connecting team members with similar interests fuelling tribes of passion!

Much to our surprise, we even have people from other areas of the business come and check out our various story walls.

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8 responses to “Who said a CFO can’t be Agile!

  1. PRA says:

    Hi Byron

    I work in a health environment and a lot of the staff are non-technical. As Agile seems to be about software development rather than the business side of things, many colleagues feel that it has nothing to do with their jobs and they can’t understand how it would help them. Did you find there was an resistance in your team when taking on Agile? Also how do you cope with the legislative requirements/restrictions as well? Thanks. Really interesting post.

  2. Brad says:

    Can you please explain more about the portable big visual charts. This is the first time I’ve heard of portable ones. Is there a particular reason that you’ve gone with this rather than a static board/charts?

  3. Susan says:

    Hi Byron

    I’d be interested to know if you think that Agile training is essential for a non-technical team or do you think if you had a coach or just books initially for your first project, could your team have carried on from there? Also are you the only member in your team that has done any formal courses in Agile or has the whole team had some training? Of course I have an vested interest in your opinion, as I work for an organisation that runs Agile courses but we are always interested in hearing feedback from participants about whether or not Agile training really does add value to the business.

  4. mark says:

    Great blog Byron. I too am in a non-software development department using Agile. We have found the level of accountability and responsiblity that Agile encourages extremely useful. Everyone’s tasks, and achievements, are on the wall for all to see. It is a great motivator as well as being a productive work practice.

  5. Byron says:

    Hi PRA,I work in the financial services industry, so we are also subject to regulatory bodies/legislation. There will be certain work requirements that must be met in terms on content and process, however the way we achieve those outcomes and work together as a team can certainly have an Agile flavour. I had initial reservations regarding the level of governance in Agile, however the level of visibility and transparency really has alleviated my concerns and to my knowledge our internal and external auditory bodies.

  6. Byron says:

    Hi Brad,
    Yes, the idea of having a portable program of work (POW) was to ensure that it was as real-time as possible. It proves useful in planning and work prioritization meetings. We also have numerous remote teams, so we are able to bring the POW into video conference rooms and have virtual standups.

  7. Byron says:

    Hi Susan,
    We didn’t have a coach as such, but the entire team has attended formal training through the Agile Academy. We also continue to support and encourage team members to continually develop, particularly in the Agile space. It certainly does add value, attending the courses really helps the team embrace the core Agile fundamentals. The exercises are simple but yet enable practical application. Also the networking opportunities with potential clients attending the courses also enrichs the relationship because we share a common understanding.

  8. Byron says:

    Thanks Mark. I think that knowing who has accountability and responsibility for specific tasks and deadlines has been one of the chief reasons it has been successful in our area.

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