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Of Agile Surveys & The Light Brigade

Published on 25 April 17
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I came across this survey and, while it struck the right notes in me about what people looked to Agile for, I couldn’t help observing some possible contradictions, in terms of what people or organisations, that I know who adopt Agile do, or should possibly be doing…

Interestingly, whilst the most (Top 5) challenges with Agile adoption are :

  • Company philosophy or culture at odds with core agile values
  • Lack of experience with agile methods
  • Lack of management support
  • General organization resistance to change
  • Lack of business/customer/product owner
the most focus on Agile adoption, that I have come across, is usually on increased automation (whether process wise – CI/CD or test automation)!! So are most organisations charging into it (Agile adoption) like the Light Brigade? And shouldn’t the focus of Agile adoption move towards the culture & inter-working, rather than the speed mechanisms!

The top 5 measures used to measure success of Agile initiatives :

  • On-time delivery
  • Business value
  • Customer/user satisfaction
  • Product quality
  • Product scope
showing that speed to market trumps quality or organisation readiness as the primary focus. Obviously, let’s focus on getting it out there fast, and let’s forget about how good it is or why we can’t seem to do that. Nowhere do the top 5 challenges show up – it just, hopefully, magically dissolves, once you chase the other parameters!

Success of Agile projects (again the Top 5) is measured by :

  • Velocity
  • Iteration burn-down
  • Release burn-down
  • Planned vs. actual stories per iteration
  • Burn-up chart
So even assuming that the organisation is toeing the ‘Agile’ line, fast, faster is the theme; but the measures of Technical debt, product quality, is not something that seems to be the key focus. I have increased the speed at which I deliver, don’t ask me whether I did deliver all of it, or how good it was!

Some of the tools focused on,

  • Taskboard
  • Bug tracker
  • Kanban board
  • Spreadsheet
  • Agile project management tool
with requirements management tools way below test automation tools. Some of the biggest challenges that I have seen people struggle with in Agile (as in traditional methods), have been around the lack of clarity, incompleteness of requirements. And these add the same drag onto Agile velocities as they would in traditional development mechanisms.

W.r.t tools, whilst Atlassian /JIRA suite is definitely on top, at # 2 is MS Excel, indicating that (largely uncoordinated) spreadsheets still rule! And along with it, the challenges of versioning, collating, etc. With the opensource stack so rich, setting up or adopting an Opensource based ALM (around the lines of what we described) shouldn’t be much of a challenge, and probably lesser of a headache to manage.

The report does give you an idea of what people are doing around the world in Agile, but then, focus on what you want to adopt and prioritize on!!
This blog is listed under Development & Implementations and Project & Service Management Community

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  1. 26 April 17

    Thank you for sharing the report and your thoughts on it. Couldn't say no to the fact that product quality is definitely not on the top of the list of parameters used to measure the success of agile implementations. Quality is a subjective and more dimensions (say usability, user experience etc.) are getting added to it with the evolution of human interaction with systems. In the race to bring our products and ideas to market before the competition, we are trading-off quality for time (before-time delivery).

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