Welcome to a series of succinct articles that will guide you through the holistic process of Agile adoption within a software firm. Instead of focusing solely on theoretical aspects of Agile, this series offers actionable insights for successfully incorporating Agile into any software company.
What this Free ‘Agile Adoption’ Course will teach you:
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- Motivations for Adopting Agile
- Determining the Feasibility of Agile
- Foundations of a successful Agile Implementation
- Nurturing Agile in your organization part 1 and part 2
Let’s dive into Part 1 – Why Adopt Agile?
Although Agile’s manifesto and principles are appealing in concept, they can be difficult to execute in a specific organizational context effectively. Time has come to bring Agile to life and overcome challenges in practical application, beyond discussing Agile’s pros and cons.
Throughout this series, we’ll strive to appreciate diverse organizational structures to ensure Agile aligns with and enhances productivity in accord with the company’s objectives. Rather than letting Agile overshadow all other elements of the organization, the focus is on creating a symbiotic relationship between Agile and other processes and tools.
Two ways to approach Agile Adoption:
1) The over-philosophizing of Agile, which complicates practical implementation or
2) The excessive formalizing of Agile that prioritises process over the end goal.
In this series, we’ll explore strategies that sandwich these extremes, striking a balance to cater to a company’s unique needs.
What You’ll Learn:
- Why Should You Choose Agile?
- Six Common Reasons to Adopt Agile in Your Organization:
- #1. Excellence Demands the Right Process
- #2. Bureaucracy Stifles Productivity and Creativity
- #3. Software Development Adapts to Darwinism
- #4. Dynamic Products Demand Early ROI
- #5. The Customer Must Be Included
- #6. Maintaining High Team Morale Is Essential
What Makes Agile the Best Choice?
Since its inception, Agile adoption has gone through various phases. These “waves of Agile adoption” have witnessed the adoption of Agile by smaller tech firms for faster time-to-market, inspiring larger organizations to embrace Agile for enhanced customer relationship management and reduced time-to-market.
While Agile has been beneficial for numerous firms, it’s crucial to understand that the motivations for adopting Agile can differ. Every organization battles a mix of common and unique challenges. Grasping these issues is critical when planning how Agile can tackle them and defining key performance indicators for the process. Overall, Agile leads the pack in terms of success, boasting a project success rate of 51%, higher than any other software development process.
Although Agile has shown more successful results in some organizational configurations, it is recommended for every software company to consider Agile, given there’s no evidence to show that it’s incompatible with any organizational elements. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to embrace Agile for the right reasons rather than blindly follow a trend or succumb to peer pressure. Companies need to pinpoint the specific challenges they face that can be overcome by implementing Agile.
It’s worth mentioning that if a company’s management philosophy contradicts Agile’s core values, trying to blend the two without altering management beliefs can result in Agile project failures. This is the most commonly cited reason for Agile failures, contributing to 13% of cases.
If there’s a foremost reason to adopt Agile, it’s the proven success it has shown in the software industry. Comparisons with other development models illustrate that Agile is continually improving due to its adaptability and capability for self-enhancement.
Outcomes of Agile Projects:
Outcomes of V & V Projects:
Outcomes of Waterfall Projects:
While every organization has individual reasons for adopting Agile, the following are the most recurrently observed motivations among companies that have successfully integrated Agile into their operations. Importantly, these motivations do not arise from following trends but are prompted by genuine needs.
Top Six Common Reasons to Adopt Agile in Your Organization:
#1. Achieving Excellence Through the Right Process
Aristotle once noted that “Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” Consistency in any field is key for attaining success. A single exceptional accomplishment does not guarantee long-term excellence. That is why organizations need the appropriate process for sustaining excellence. Unfortunately, no universal process can be applied to all organizations and projects. However, each organization can develop a tailored process.
Establishing an exceedingly structured and intricate process definition, requiring dedicated resources and continuous enhancement, may not be viable for many companies. As a result, they may disregard the significance of a well-formulated process, tending towards ad-hoc practices. Typically, large IT projects overstretch their budget by 45% and lag 7% behind schedule, while delivering 56% less value than anticipated.
Agile offers a flexible, cost-efficient alternative to ad-hoc methods. By keeping its principles abstract, Agile can be adjusted to fit an organization’s specific needs. Inspired by other companies’ Agile practices, organizations can assess and adopt the strategies that work best in their particular context.
#2. Bureaucracy is a Productivity and Creativity Killer
There was a point when our company celebrated the achievement of CMMI level 2 in 2006. Among thousands of software companies, we were in the top ten that attained this landmark. We proudly shared this accomplishment with current clients and potential ones and viewed it as an impressive marketing tool.
However, we soon discovered that bureaucracy was impeding productivity and suppressing creativity. The company was becoming rigid, reminiscent of the military, with superfluous red tape obstructing information flow and task completion. Employees were more engrossed in their roles rather than the tasks they were assigned. There was a lack of willingness to go beyond designated roles, resulting in a stagnation of ideas and a hesitance to take risks.
In software development, organizations need to strike a balance between discipline and flexibility. More of a democratic than a bureaucratic approach is required. Bureaucracy restricts experimentation and risk-taking and the ability to correct mistakes.
Agile provides a solution to escape bureaucratic processes while retaining simplicity, flexibility, and efficiency. By placing the responsibility for collective objectives on teams and promoting cross-functional collaboration, Agile cultivates a more democratic and creative environment. This approach empowers team members with diverse skill sets to equally contribute and take responsibility for the product.
#3. Software Development Follows Darwinism
Software development evolves continually, adapting to changes in requirements and technology. Traditional process models initially resist deviation, and integrate change management only as a last resort. Agile, contrarily, views change as a fundamental part of the development process, treating it as a primary instrument rather than a limitation.
Agile acknowledges the iterative and evolutionary nature of software development. It understands that several potential solutions to a problem may exist and that the best solution can only be determined through continuous feedback and adaptation. Agile’s emphasis on adapting to change over rigidly adhering to a plan aligns with the natural evolution of software development.
Adopting Agile to manage changes is rated as the second leading reason, as organizations recognize the need to adapt in response to evolving requirements and market dynamics.
#4. Dynamic Products Demand an Early ROI
By nature, software products are dynamic and constantly subject to market changes. Ideas and solutions quickly become obsolete, making it essential to introduce products to the market as quickly as possible.
Our organization underwent a transition when it became evident that our traditional method was unable to keep up with market requirements. We had to ship products with frequent updates, and executing within the defined process became challenging. It became apparent that a new approach was necessary to ensure shorter time-to-market and early profits. The key factor was introducing the product when the market demanded it.
Agile promotes the development of Minimum Viable Products (MVP) for early market delivery. This approach has proven to be highly successful, with 73% of Agile adopters experiencing significant reductions in the time-to-market of their projects.
#5. Customer Involvement is Crucial
A prime dilemma faced by organizations following traditional processes is the lack of early customer validation. Traditional models often incorporate customer validation only at the project or iteration’s conclusion. This lack of early involvement and feedback from customers can result in products that do not entirely satisfy their needs.
Agile addresses this predicament by advocating continuous customer collaboration throughout the development process. In Agile, customer feedback and involvement take precedent over rigid adherence to pre-established contracts. Aligning business and software development objectives is ranked as the third top reason for adopting Agile.
#6. High Team Morale is Indispensable
Traditionally, project plans, Gantt charts, and management reports were regarded as crucial artifacts for achieving project success. However, these artifacts often resulted in a lack of ownership and accountability among team members. It became evident that team morale needed to be elevated and that ownership of the product had to be shifted to the entire team.
Agile places responsibility for collective goals on teams and encourages cross-functional collaboration. It promotes an inclusive, egalitarian approach where team members with varied skill sets can contribute and take ownership of the product. By focusing on team morale rather than individual satisfaction, Agile fosters high-performance teams.
The representation below underscores the significance of team morale:
The reasons for adopting Agile discussed in this article are drawn from personal experiences and feedback provided by Agile practitioners and process engineers from diverse organizations. While specific challenges might vary, the motivating factors for adopting Agile are commonly applicable. Organizations that have solely relied on traditional approaches may encounter these issues and should contemplate adopting Agile if they align with their challenges.
It is essential to evaluate the success of specific Agile practices within an organization and assess whether Agile is a better fitting process compared to their former methods. The proactive identification of these challenges will help organizations to steer in the right direction and make informed decisions throughout the Agile adoption journey.
Author: This series of articles is penned by Umair Khalid, a Quality Assurance Manager at eDev Technologies with over a decade of experience in software development and testing. Umair boasts hands-on experience as a SCRUM Master and has successfully transitioned organizations from traditional CMMI-driven processes to Agile.
If you believe Agile is the right strategy for your organization, stay tuned for our next article titled “Is Agile feasible for you?” which will assist you in ascertaining if your organization is ready to incorporate Agile.