I’ve always asked myself what is the relationship between how a company uses Salesforce® and their Agile mindset? How the Salesforce® Platform can enable agility for a company?
I will try to answer these questions in the following article and describe what Salesforce® capabilities are out there to help us in the journey of Agile transformation inside our organizations.
What is Agility in a Company?
Agile is a way of thinking, a way of acting inside of a Company in order to get things done. This behavior is sustained in values that everyone knows and rules their day-to-day decisions. A lot of resources about this topic are available out there but here’s a very good article that I have found during my searches trying to understand a global definition for Agile: What Does It Mean to Have an Agile Mindset? This article describes what to me are the must-have characteristics that a Company needs to have to call itself an “Agile Company”:
Thirst for knowledge
Goal of team success
Willingness to fail
In order for a Company to have these characteristics, they need to have certain values that guide their path:
Embracing the change and adapting to it instead of trying to control the change
Promoting self-organization and empowerment instead of control measures and bureaucracy
Creating a safe environment that promotes innovation and questioning instead of a process-oriented company
These beliefs and characteristics create a Company in which the working culture is all about collaboration to meet their business goals. This creates an enjoyable environment in which Management has the time to focus on the future and keep asking the right question to move the company forward.
How the Salesforce® Platform can enable Agility for your company?
If you analyze what being Agile means, you can conclude that Salesforce® offers many tools that support the Agile mindset and can help you to enhance this transformation.
Let’s start with Chatter! Salesforce® strongly promotes social collaboration in the workplace. If you are looking to implement a tool to improve communication and visibility, Chatter is the right tool for you.
Additional to Chatter, Salesforce® has others great tools to create and promote knowledge across employees and customers. Communities is the perfect solution if you want to create a communication channel between your employees and customers. If you need to create a knowledge base to enhance your close case ratio, you have Salesforce® Knowledge available to start boosting your staff productivity.
Let’s not forget that Salesforce® supports Mobile access so your staff can have the information when they need it, anywhere they need it. This definitively improves response times and communication in a great manner.
It seems clear that Salesforce® has been built with an Agile vision embedded on the product, but it doesn’t end there. In case you have a very specific need that Salesforce® out of the box features are not able to fulfill, you can always count with AppExchange where you can find almost any App that you can imagine. In AppExchange, there’s an App in which I want to focus for the rest of the article called Salesforce® Agile Accelerator. This App it’s a hidden gem if you are looking to transform your world of work to Agile.
Introducing Salesforce® Agile Accelerator
Salesforce® has been growing exponentially in the last years and as a company that operates at a global scale, they have a huge developer workforce and lot of projects to manage as well as several production and testing environments. Trying to keep track of all the trouble tickets, user stories, bugs, builds, releases, etc. in a company like Salesforce® can be a serious challenge.
The question is how in a complex environment like this you manage to overcome all the difficulties to become the most innovative company in the world? Let me answer to that question by saying that being Agile is the only way. How can you be Agile in a complex and large company like Salesforce®? As we have discussed before, the right mindset and the right tools are the key.
Salesforce® Agile Accelerator (AKA at Salesforce® as GUS – Grand Unified System) has an interesting story worth-telling. This is the tool that Salesforce® uses to manage all their Agile processes and they have been expanding this product for over 6 years creating a robust and mature product for Agile management.
This tool was born from the internal effort of 3 teams that created their applications for different purposes in the Force.com Platform. The Apps created were Bugforce, Scrumforce and QAforce, by the name you can guess what the purpose of each was.
The next step in the roadmap was to integrate these 3 apps to work together and this is how GUS 1.0 was born. GUS (today known as Salesforce® Agile Accelerator for Salesforce® Customers) consolidated Bug Tracking, Scrum and QA in a single interface without the need of integration with other systems. GUS is built in Force.com platform, that is why it has native integration with other Salesforce® objects and relies on Chatter for all the communication and social collaboration.
Having Bug Tracking, Scrum and QA was only the beginning. New features have been added to the product like root cause analysis, emergency release, technology headcount planning, infrastructure portfolio programs, etc., with all the API integration capabilities of the Force.com platform as well as mobile compatibility using Salesforce1.
Salesforce® recognized that a lot of efforts have been invested in GUS and they have developed a product that has grown strong. They decided to share this product with their customers through an App on the AppExchange called Salesforce® Agile Accelerator. As a Salesforce® customer trying to transform your world of work to Agile, these are great news; not only because you have a robust and mature Agile management product available but because this App is free.
A brief demo and description of the product can be found in: How Salesforce Does Agile.
Also, you can find documentation and other resources in the AppExchange: Agile Accelerator.
As a Salesforce® and Agile evangelist I love the idea of being able to combine Salesforce® with Agile management. Hopefully this product will continue to grow and more Salesforce® customers will take advantage of this tool for their agile journey.