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IKOR-Projektmanagement-Expert:innen Benjamin Badorrek – bei IKOR Cargo Lead für Agiles Projektmanagement – und Annika Pilk
Annika Pilk (left) and Benjamin Badorrek: "Organizations should pursue agility strategically, operationally, and tactically."

– Project Excellence

How companies should approach agile project management


Learning to write agile success stories 

Ever faster changes, pressure to innovate and increased demands on development and test management are challenging companies. At the same time, the market is fascinated by agility. In this interview, IKOR project management experts Benjamin Badorrek - Agile Project Management Lead at IKOR Cargo - and Annika Pilk explain how agile project management provides holistic support. As an Agile Coach and Scrum Master at IKOR, Annika is responsible for integration projects in the financial industry. 

You are working intensively on the concept of "agile readiness" at IKOR . What's behind it? How does the hype translate into what it takes to become a full-blown trend?

Benjamin Badorrek: Agility doesn't just mean acting faster. Above all, agility also helps to proceed in a smarter, more flexible and targeted manner. The current fascination can be explained by the increased challenges facing project management: organizations have to react quickly to changes in the market and pressure to innovate. They develop products or increments within the shortest possible period of time and test them with selected customers or key users.  

Annika Pilk: When we talk about "agile readiness" here, we mean the focus on learning to optimize product development and write success stories. As an agile capability, readiness lays the foundation for companies to respond more quickly to customer needs, promote innovation, improve teamwork and increase efficiency. As a trend, it is making companies increasingly aware that agility is not only important in times of change, but that agility should also become a core competence 

Projektmanagement-Expertin Annika Pilk ist bei IKOR Consultant und Scrum Master für Integrationsprojekte der Finanzindustrie.
Project management expert Annika Pilk is an IKOR Consultant and Scrum Master for integration projects in the financial industry.
Badorrek Benjamin von IKOR
Benjamin Badorrek is responsible for agile project management as a Cargo Lead.

"Agility requires a rethink: away from rigid annual plans and towards an adaptive approach that companies continuously evaluate and adjust." 

Agile companies can react better to disruptions and implement innovative solutions faster...

Badorrek: Exactly. Those who are "agile ready" are strategically, operationally and tactically highly flexible - organizations should practice agility accordingly . Fast, empowered and self-organized teams enable companies to actively adapt to change and transformation requirements. "Agile readiness" therefore goes far beyond pure software development - as a company's ability to act nimbly at various levels . Rapid adaptation to market conditions affects the entire company.

However, this does not happen on its own. Project management and its core team must be prepared for this moment - just as a baker does not throw ingredients together at random. Because then neither fluffy dough nor tasty pastries would result. The analogy to the bakery picture is impressively simple in project management: What constitutes the patience of the baker; preparing dough the day before, letting it rise and rest again, then shaping and baking pretzels, corresponds in a figurative sense to the technical expertise and communication know-how of project management. The Project-Office creates framework conditions, so that all the necessary processes required for the project are in place and set up smoothly. This ensures that all pretzels are actually baked in the desired time and quality. And it ensures that no baked goods get lost in the turmoil of everyday project work. This includes not only tracking daily tasks, but also monitoring overall progress. This is done in a format that makes the status clear and transparent in a quick and understandable way.

What exactly does that mean?

Pilk: A strategically agile company can quickly adapt its goals and priorities to changing market conditions. Strategic decisions should be flexible enough to meet changing requirements. Above all, however, agility requires a change in thinking away from long-term, rigid, annual plans and towards an adaptive approach that companies continuously evaluate and adjust.  

Badorrek: Beyond the implementation of projects in Scrum or Kanban, for example, agility in the strategic sense requires a profound cultural change. The entire company, or at least one department, should adopt an organizationally agile approach - for example, according to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Scrum at Scale (SaS) or similar methods. New structures and processes are then implemented. However, it is also about comprehensively rethinking roles, structures and the mindset of the company. Agility does not involve short-term solutions, but above all a strategic vision. 

Speaking of mindset: you emphasize that management must support this change, live it and even exemplify it. What about tactics and implementation?

Badorrek: Tactical agility focuses on the implementation of strategic goals. This includes the ability to adapt processes and workflows quickly. It's not just about product development. A company should be able to act agilely in all areas - i.e., flexible, timely, focused, and learning from mistakes.  

Pilk: However, the theory should not be implemented with a crowbar. Tactical agility means adapting the methodology individually to your own company. Transformation takes time and patience. Employees need to be taken on board and actively involved.  

This means that companies need to set clear rules on how they want to apply the methodology to their own company...

Pilk: That's right. This is the only way for companies to prepare for such far-reaching transformations rather than leaving them to chance. Implementation must be tightly organized and structured. (Let's take Scrum at Scale (SaS) as an example. Here, the specifications are clearly defined, but will rarely be 100% applicable to an existing organizational structure.  

Can you explain this in more detail?

Pilk: There will always be employees who are involved in projects, for example, but also in traditional line activities such as monthly billing. This can clash with sprint cycles. However, double staffing for one week a month is not possible. The SaS processes must therefore be adapted here. 

These processes therefore take into account strategic orientation, organizational environment and system support...

Badorrek: Exactly. The organization adjusts the sprint length once a month, for example, or finds other solutions to deal with a lack of resources. In order to understand and effectively apply the principles and methods of agility, employees need training and ongoing coaching 

What about operational agility?

Pilk: It concerns flexibility at the level of individual tasks and teams - with the aim of promoting collaboration, decentralizing decisions and increasing the organization's responsiveness. Companies can then react more quickly to customer and market requirements. This enables them to continuously improve products, processes and services. Retrospectives and reviews are used to optimize processes and products. Open and transparent communication between agile teams is crucial for implementation.  

Badorrek: Some companies set themselves up as so-called tribes or feature teams, for example. In this constellation, the teams can make their own decisions, which makes them faster. This does not mean that this is completely uncoordinated and that management decisions are no longer required. Quite the opposite: management must specify the overall strategy and vision so that everyone is moving in the same direction and working hand in hand in a coordinated manner across the board. This creates a common vision.  

Success factors: What "agile ready" means:

  • React faster to change: Agile companies adapt more quickly to new market conditions and take advantage of opportunities faster. 
  • Increase innovative capacity: Those who act more flexibly can implement innovative ideas more quickly. 
  • Improve customer satisfaction: Continuous improvements and faster solutions mean that customer wishes are better fulfilled. 
  • Attract new talent: Agile companies are often more attractive to highly qualified employees - especially if this target group wants to work in a dynamic environment.  
  • Adopt a holistic view: Not just individual products, but the entire value chain and all areas of the company must be considered. 

Your conclusion: What does "agile readiness" actually do for organizations? And where does the concept reach its limits?

Pilk: Agility is the key to helping companies meet the challenges of an increasingly volatile and digital environment; however, it is not a panacea. It is also not suitable for all companies in every context. Whether companies actually benefit from agile practices depends on careful analysis, targeted training and continuous adaptation - in combination with reasonable planning of the introduction. 

Badorrek: Thinking agility strategically, tactically and operationally leads to being "agile ready" enabling greater corporate success. Even the introduction of the first agile projects, teams and areas promises tangible success. Right from the start, companies learn on a small scale how best to adapt their processes. The rule here is: keep changing, trying, learning and adapting. Progressive adaptation is the key to expanding agility; this is how organizations ensure their "agile readiness" as an entire company. 

Contact Person

Projektmanagement-Expertin Annika Pilk ist bei IKOR Consultant und Scrum Master für Integrationsprojekte der Finanzindustrie.

Annika Pilk

Consultant and Scrum Master
Dock Project Excellence
+49 40 8199442-0

Badorrek Benjamin von IKOR

Benjamin Badorrek

Cargo Lead and Manager Project Excellence
Dock Project Excellence
+49 40 8199442-0

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