New Age Implementations: Success with Agile Maturity
To clarify, Agile maturity implementations are not “New Age” in the popular culture sense; we won’t be discussing healing crystals or astrology in this blog. Instead, implementations steeped in Agile maturity models enable advanced, transformative results for group insurers, especially those with assessment tools that acknowledge insurers’ unique challenges. Agile management methodology by itself fosters greater project collaboration and alignment between IT and business constituents. Paired with Agile maturity models, implementations can facilitate greater cooperation and cultural change throughout an organization.
The Three Stages of Agile Maturity
For insurers, the Agile maturity model enhances Agile methodology by focusing on the insurance ecosystem, while measuring the three stages of maturity during an implementation: Emerging, Evolving, and Transforming.1 These stages rank the different levels of maturity across different functional areas, rating progressions through these stages based on capability. They can be applied to facets of the entire organization, such as funding, culture, and innovation, to assess their individual Agile status, i.e., where they are in terms of being product aligned rather than project aligned, a major paradigm of Agile methodology.
The Emerging stage marks the start of the Agile journey after initial pilot programs with one or two project teams with defined agile processes delivering after a sprint cadence. IT is typically the catalyst for change, but complete business buy-in remains an issue.
When a project or functional area is Evolving, insurers have succeeded with Agile projects and move to broader program objectives. Product management becomes a focus for the business and IT organizational projects collaborate more frequently with well-defined metrics measured against business goals.
At the Transforming stage, insurers have embraced a “product over project” perspective and have transitioned organizational structures and processes to fully support the Agile operating model. Product management, rather than project management, drives investment and governance.
Evolved Alignment and Management
In Agile and Agile maturity-based implementations, alignment evolves to focus on products, not projects. Products are durable, with ongoing periods where the Agile maturity model can be implemented to assess progress. Another key aspect of product alignment over project alignment is that organizational teams support the product across its life cycle. In this way, the distinction between development and maintenance and support disappears; the team that builds the product is also responsible for its evolution. As a result, high-performing teams remain in place and are not disbanded on completion, avoiding the process of team formation, development, and completion. In terms of management, product managers are critical to Agile and Agile maturity-based implementations. They oversee products throughout their life cycle and are responsible for their value proposition to consumers.2 Product managers have also become particularly important to group insurers, due to insurers’ increased digital presence. To be successful digitally, traditional methods that insurers use to identify, prioritize, and specify what to build aren’t enough; product management is increasingly necessary for achieving successful digital objectives.3
Agile Maturity in Action
Today, several large group insurers are using Agile maturity models to reach their restructuring objectives. With Agile and Agile maturity as blueprints and assessment models, respectively, they are redefining management and governance. These insurers are demonstrating that transformation with Agile maturity is possible and are leading the way in terms of collaboration, innovation, and long-term cultural change.
Group insurers today have frequently turned to Agile maturity models to assess and enhance their Agile transformations. With Agile and Agile maturity redefining what a successful transformation can be, insurers have used these tools to successfully add value, revolutionize their operations, and stand out in an intensely competitive and commoditized industry. No healing crystals or astrology charts necessary.
1 “Agile Maturity Model for Insurers,” Novarica Executive Brief, January 2020