Part of my role as Broadcom Software’s VP of International Markets, is to think about the future. And like most of you, I never expected to see a once-in-a-generation pandemic that forced once-in-a-generation change.
Businesses responded to the historic challenge by accelerating their rate of cloud adoption and in relatively short order, the enterprise world went entirely remote. This was the epitome of digital transformation, as companies seemingly overnight adjusted their work routines, putting measures in place that allowed their employees to securely access data and telecommute full-time.
But now that Covid is – hopefully – receding, enterprises need to take stock of their processes to make sure they’re staying current in a very different work environment. It’s impossible to predict where we’ll be a decade from now, but it’s fair to assume that hybrid work arrangements, with some people working remotely while others go to an office, will remain the norm for quite some time.
In the interim, we, as business leaders, need to think about ways to maximize the opportunities for employees to be successful, no matter where they work. Particularly when it comes to enterprise sales.
That's what's driven us toward the concept of the Agile Scrum, a philosophy that Broadcom Software decided to adopt for our international sales team.
The turn to Agile Scrum is particularly useful if you work in an organization that’s built upon a hierarchy – which is the way it usually works in most enterprise organizations.
For those unfamiliar with the terminology, I’m talking about a project management philosophy. Agile and Scrum are often thought to be one and the same, but they’re not. Agile is a set of principles while Scrum is a framework for getting work done.
Simply put, Agile features an iterative approach towards the completion of a project; in other words, it’s more of a guide for how to think about project work. But Scrum gets into the real nitty-gritty specifics involved in the actual managing of a project.
The turn to Agile Scrum is particularly useful if you work in an organization that’s built upon a hierarchy – which is the way it usually works in most enterprise organizations. For instance, I run a billion-dollar business with 200-plus people in every country we do business in. Yet most of us have never met in-person because of COVID or because we're so far away and collaborating across time zones.
My own belief is that it shouldn’t matter where someone works. It's how we work that's important. You can be sitting next to somebody in a cubicle and yet never speak to each other. So, over the last nine months, we’ve successfully moved the sales organization to an Agile Scrum footing, allowing members of our sales teams to collaborate more closely than ever, despite being separated by distance or geography.
Thanks to Agile Scrum, I’ve now got team members speaking with each other for at least 15 minutes every day. For many, they say this is the first time that they’ve felt like a cohesive team – and this from employees working in various geographies all around the world.
The 3 C’s
Before implementing Agile Scrum throughout the sales organization, we set three goals. I like to call them “the 3 C’s.”
The first “C” refers to curation. We had to find a way of consolidating all the data on our people's devices and figure out the best way to store data. That’s crucial because our people aren't working solely in the office anymore; most are still on their laptops, working from home. So, it was key that we improve, capture, and store all this data so that they can easily access this vast reservoir of information.
The second “C” refers to collaboration. We invested a lot of thought and effort around improving the collaboration process and ways to get people talking and working together. That meant building on virtual tools like G Suite and Slack so that it didn’t matter if one member of a team worked in New York while her colleague was in Mumbai. We have a channel for every account and every Slack channel is open. So, there’s the virtual meeting group for the wider organization to access. That gives them the necessary tools to stay in real-time contact, no matter the location.
Cadence was our third “C.” Simply put, we focused on the cadence of how to operate in a bid to step up our pace.
You frequently find inertia in big organizations because once the vision gets set at the top, there's often no correlation with what people are doing in their day-to-day jobs.
All this fed into our adoption of an Agile Scrum approach to improve the efficiency of our sales teams by doing regular reviews to check their progress against goals. As a manager, that also proved a huge help. In a sales organization, you normally have a QBR, which is by default, quarterly. I'm now getting an update every month on my team’s progress – which I think is three times better than a quarterly QBR.
Now they understand more about what we're doing and the things we're up to. This is another reason why Agile Scrum is so successful; it immediately builds a team.
The team members are all accountable for the tasks. Everybody must have a very clear understanding of what they are expected to do. It's written down and shared everywhere. And it produces this level of empowerment within the teams because everybody is actually talking. It’s not Tom Thorpe coming in and telling them what to do. Their team is actually doing the work that they're being asked to do and making sure through consensus and pressure that they get it done.
One of my account directors in Stockholm said to me, "As part of the sprint reviews I was asked to attend their Scrum; it's the first time I met my partner team since I've joined Broadcom Software Group."
By participating in a team where there is a cadence of daily stand-ups for 15 minutes, either over WebEx or the Slack channel, she no longer felt isolated in Sweden doing her thing. She now belonged.
The Bigger Picture
Any enterprise business can do the same. It starts with a three-year horizon. If we’re talking about 2025, define the outcomes you want to meet. Then ask what’s needed for next fiscal year to support that journey toward 2024. At Broadcom Software, we have a quarterly canvas and set monthly goals that support the quarterly. And we have two-week sprint tasks that support the monthlies. Net-net, I can track literally down to the individual task and check how that supports the overall three-year vision of the company. I'm not sure many organizations have that level of transparency.
People across the organization now understand the value of being able either to access or participate in Scrum stand-ups to gain an understanding of what's going on in the organization. At the same time, they don't need to wait for that because they can get onto the channels in Slack and see for themselves.
What’s more, we’ve published a number of documents with standardized tasks and goals, ranging from the three-year horizon all the way down to the two-week sprint task so that anyone can review them. That makes for complete transparency within the organization.
We've also been able to use Scrums and Agile to actually bring the customer and our product management teams together in order to change products or create new features in a product designed specifically for one of our strategic accounts.
So, instead of being dependent on a generic product roadmap, our product management team and our developers are now able to come up with a viable product and iterate on that within four to eight weeks.
Until now, you’ve seen startups do something like that, but not established software brands like Broadcom Software. I think that's pretty cool.
Agile and Scrum are about iteration and constantly improving and developing.
And it loops back to the idea of accountability that Agile Scrum embraces. Top management, like me, doesn’t become the impediment in the process any longer. Someone now has the freedom to run the business where they’re ultimately accountable and given both the authority and the autonomy to drive the operation their way.
In our largest account, for instance, our account director also becomes the product manager. Our customer success manager, who is the person really accountable for the delivery work, is our Scrum Master. And then the Scrum is made up of other people, either dedicated from Broadcom Software Group or from the customer.
It makes perfect sense for my organization to operate as a Scrum and Agile. We’re now able to bring together the customer and our business units with our software developers to actually make sure that the customer gets that end-to-end Agile experience.
Agile and Scrum are about iteration and constantly improving and developing. And in the relatively short time since we’ve adopted them for our sales teams, the results have been nothing short of exceptional.
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