Introducing agile principles and management to a library organization
Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet), 2014
Libraries are pressured to adapt to changing conditions due to user demands, behavior, emerging technologies and a need for cost-efficient solutions. Software companies have turned to agile development to stay competitive and to deliver working solutions in a short timeframe. Agile processes are built upon co-operation, iterative workflows and delivering working solutions with a high business value. Agile development and management in an agile organization constitutes a controlled framework of principles with a promise to ensure that the organization focuses on the right things and is able to adapt to new needs.
The Library at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden introduced agile software development in 2011 as a part of the work with the institutional repository. Following the success of introducing Scrum to system developers the formation of cross-disciplinary teams for other projects involved librarians. One of the projects for a cross-disciplinary team was to develop a brand new website. Drawing upon the experience of Scrum and with a focus on User Experience design (UX) the team was able to define an agile methodology involving different competences at the library. As other projects formed and adopted the principles of Scrum and agile the methodology spread throughout the library organization as it was re-organized.
Managing an agile oriented organization can be challenging. Senior management has been forced to work with allocating resources, input to prioritization, sprint planning and judging business value thus forcing a transparency to appear in the organization and exposing its operations.
Chalmers Library is still exploring the possibilities and challenges of working with agile development and management. It is an iterative and evolving process, but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks as the organization can learn and respond to change, re-prioritize how resources are allocated, avoid knowledge silos, build strong teams and identify uncertainties early.
As of January 1st 2014 the library organization changed and introduced agile principles throughout all operations.