Creating a Roadmap for Improvement

Now that we’ve done the assessment we’re ready to figure out our roadmap.

There are two extremes to the approaches that can be taken. The first is to take a framework as a preset solution. Although framework promoters like to say frameworks are flexible that’s only for what you can fill in. The framework itself is defined by set practices. The second extreme is to figure it out from scratch. This can be both expensive and time-consuming. Expensive if you don’t know how the practices you need and time-consuming if you an’t get people to align on things.

The FLEX approach takes a middle ground. FLEX recognizes that most companies need a reasonably similar approach. That the variations present are mostly in three different areas. The first area is who is driving the adoption – this will constrain where you can start. The second area relates to the particular implementations of the methods you are changing.  The third is what order make the changes.

Who is driving?

Most adoptions are driven by one of the following:

  1. C-Level
  2. CIO/CTO
  3. Product management
  4. Director
  5. Team

Typical changes and implementations to make

Although there are dozens of changes that can be made, most of them are in one of three areas. These are shown in figure 1:

Figure 1: Areas of improvement

Strategic planning and OKRs

Most companies have a fairly well defined strategy . The biggest challenges they have include:

  • not having agreement across stakeholders as to what’s most important from an objective point of view
  • not understanding what the company’s minimum business increments are
  • not having a way to map the strategy to the development teams

Fixing these challenges is not usually very difficult if C-level people are involved. It’s about:

  • mitigating risk
  • having a plan they can count on
  • knowing they will get value from their investments
  • having a resilient system so they can get some degree of predictability

However, unless C-Level folks are driving things you can’t usually start here.

Using MBIs and create a well defined intake process

Eli Goldratt (creater of Theory of Constraints) once said “often reducing batch size is all it takes to bring a system back into control.”Using MBIs is often the most straightforward way to do this. If you only do one change to your process I’d suggest it be use MBIs.

If the CTO/CIO and/or product managers are driving then you can start here even if C-Level folks aren’t.

Use ATDD to define the sprint backlogs

Writing small, well-defined stories is hard for most Agile teams. The fact that they are usually not taught this until the the second or third round of training is one of the biggest mistakes I believe organizations make in moving to Agile methods.  Regardless of who is driving, this should be in the first line of training.

Have teams collaborate and integrate

There are several ways teams should collaborate. SAFe has one, but there are several others. I’ve included a few in part V of this book.

Use DevOps and create a relationship with marketing and support

DevOps is growing in popularity and for good reason. However, it is not much more than a specialized way to do Lean flow. Doing the same for the relationship between development and test is equally important.

Typical changes and implementations to make

Once you’ve established where your changes need to be and where you can start you are down to seeing how to improve each area. While one must always be careful not to make local changes without attending to the big picture, these sections typically have well-defined input and outputs and relationships to other parts of the company.  How each one is done depends to a large extent on the needs of the organization. However, how to solve each of these areas is reasonably known.


If you want to learn more about FLEX you can take an online course at the Net Objectives University or take a live course in Orange County, CA May 6-8 or in Seattle in June (both led by Al Shalloway). If you want to learn about how to adopt FLEX in your organization please contact the author, Al Shalloway