Organizations want to have insight in the values that Agile can bring to them. They want to know if and how Agile can help to satisfy customer needs more quickly, and what they can do to increase productivity and reduce development and operations costs. It is important to know the value that Agile can deliver and to be able to measure it. At the event Impact and Value of Agile, organized by the Agile Consortium, I presented the State of Affairs in Agile Value creation.
Rally Software and the Software Engineering Institute are doing research using a measurement framework called Software Development Performance Index (SDPI) which provides insight into productivity, predictability, quality and responsiveness of Agile software development. At the event on May 23, 2014 in Bilthoven in the Netherlands Larry Maccherone from Rally presented results from their ongoing study on Agile performance metrics. Frank Vogelezang gave a presentation on the financial results of agile in which he showed that maximizing financial returns means focusing on maximizing benefits rather than cutting costs.
Agile delivers value
Agile helps to deliver the right product to your customers. A product which does what customers need and that they are willing to pay for. Customer collaboration is the key value in Agile that makes this possible.
Products can be delivered quicker by working in iterations. In multi-disciplined teams professionals work together to deliver working software.
Agile with the support of Lean helps teams to only do things that have value. By focusing on the customer needs with the highest value multitasking is reduced. Effective collaboration and communication in teams also reduces process overhead.
In teams people help and support each other and care for each other. Self-organized teams provide freedom for professionals to work in their own way.
My personal view is that lower costs are a result of delivering the right product quickly to customers, with increased productivity and happy employees. If lowering costs is your primairy goal why you want to do Agile it will most probaby not succeed.
Agile can only work if teams are truly self-organized. It allows professionals to fully take responsibility for the work that they do. Continuous improvement will result as teams will recognize potential improvements in the way that they work and will take action. Some examples of techniques that teams can use to continously improve are Kanban and Retrospectives.
Agile Value Matters
Adopting Agile requires an investement as any organizational change. Organization will spend money and time on training and coaching. It will impact the way that the organization is structured and managed. For managers to decide if and how they want to adopt agile they will need information that helps them to estimate the value that Agile can bring for their organization.
Wether or not Agile has value is also important for teams and team members. My experience is that people find quality and the way that they do their work important. They want to develop themselves as professionals. Also it is important for people to know that they are doing the right thing, things that matter for their customers and their stakeholders. It really motivates teams if they see that the products that they developed are being used (that is one reason why product demo’s are so important).
Measuring the value of Agile
We’ve been measuring in software development since the 1970’s. The 1968 NATO conference on Software Engineering was one of the main triggers as it considers software development to be a science, something that we can scientifically study, measure, analyse and improve.
People like Barry Boehm, Capers Jones, Larry Putnam and Tom Gilb and organizations like the SEI (SEMA department), ISBSG and Nesma, SMS (now part of DCG), and QSM have explored measuring software engineering. Most software development methods and models include information on how you can do measurements, e.g. CMMI, RUP.
Here’s a list of studies measuring the value of Agile:
- Empirical studies of agile software development by Alarcos
- The Agile Impact Report by QSM for Rally Software.
- The Business Value of Using Agile Project … by David F. Rico.
- Economics of Software Quality by Jones and Bonsignour
- Evidence of Success of Agile Projects Columbus Agile Productivity
- Agile Werkt by Hennie Huijgens
- Evaluating Agile and Scrum … by Capers Jones
- Agile Performance Metrics by Rally and SEI
- Agile portfolio management … by Christoph Johann Stettina
- Agile Benchmarks and Reports by Donald Reifer (Donald is semi-retired)
The State of Affairs in Agile Value creation
Below find the presentation that I gave at the event Impact and Value of Agile on May 23, 2014 in Bilthoven in the Netherlands.
Creating Agile Value
Value is in the eye of the beholder. Something can be valuable for one organizations, while others consider it to be less important. My advice is to think about what matters for your customers, define relevant and useful measurements for it and start measuring the value that Agile creates for your organization.