Friday, January 14, 2011

Sunny with a Chance of Agility

What is your Agile weather report?  Some have sunny Agile efforts ahead. Some are looking to get introduced to agility and others are considering strategies for Agile deployments.  As we gaze in the horizon, what do we think will be hot in the Agile landscape and improve our working lives? What might be some of the latest shifts in the Agile industry in the upcoming year?

The theme of my Agile weather report for 2011 focuses on:
  • Job security with Agile credentials
  • More structure with Agile deployments
  • Agile Tooling goes ALM
Prediction #1:  Job security with Agile credentials
I predict that we will see a significant growth in software engineering jobs that include an Agile element to them.  In general, we are seeing a growth in the use of Agile methodologies and practices in the software industry.   Many of the new positions are now mentioning Agile as one of the job requirements.  The implication is that they are looking for people who have worked within an Agile context so that when they join the new company, they bring Agile experience. 
Prediction #2:  More structure with Agile deployments
As product teams become more mature so do their Agile practices.  While Agile has been utilized in projects for several years now, it is still new to many.  With that in mind, I expect to see more formality in deploying Agile.  This is especially true since Agile is no longer a budding trend but maturing where patterns are emerging that lead to more successful Agile deployments.  While some would like to say, “Let’s just get started doing Agile”, it may be better to consider a methodical or strategic approach to the deployment of Agile.  With that in mind, here are some Agile adoption approaches that may be considered:
Prediction #3: Agile Tooling goes ALM
As we look into 2011 and the future, we will see more focus on providing comprehensive Agile tooling capabilities within an Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) framework.  The value of having an ALM framework is that it allows a product team to manage customer needs from business case development to delivery.  When tools support this framework, it can help streamline and reduce the effort in supporting the process.  Some examples of tooling that provides an Agile focus in an ALM context include:
As we look into 2011, conditions could be quite sunny for those companies looking for the Agile edge.  What this may mean to those with Agile credentials is that you will gain job security.  Since Agile is becoming more mature, continues to prove itself, and can scale to larger product teams and their projects, there will be a need to have more consistent approaches to deploying Agile.   There are patterns for success deployments which new teams can take advantage of.  And as Agile tooling makes its way into more of an Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) framework, it can provide a more end-to-end view of how business and user needs make their way to delivery.  Whether your forecast is sunny or cloudy (or a little bit of both), consider agility in driving your business!  Have a productive 2011!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Is Agile Mainstream yet?

There continues to be a lot of debate on whether Agile is mainstream. According to a Forrester report published in early 2010, while widespread “Agile” use of the iterative software development processes is found, " teams are not adopting scrum, extreme programming, or another specific Agile approach, but are embracing agile as an ethos or philosophy and cherry-picking the best bits from many different process models to develop a formula unique to their own situation."  

However, the largest category in the survey – and the one that is the most telling is that 30.6% of the respondents said they do not use a formal process methodology.  Add to this my own experience implementing Agile, reading the latest Agile literature (e.g., articles, research, books, etc.), and discussing Agile (and Agile implementations) with people across numerous companies in North America, Europe, and Asia, and what this indicates to me is that:
  • There is definitely broad awareness of Agile
  • There are many companies who are on the Agile bandwagon because it is seems like the right thing to do
  • There are many Agile “book-read” folks who have not really experienced an Agile implementation
  • There are some teams who are “cherry-picking” parts of Agile process for their own Agile implementation
  • There are fewer teams who are applying end-to-end Agile methods and practices across their lifecycle
  • The companies that have made the cultural shift to the Agile mindset are still a minority
The question becomes, does this really represent a pervasive enough understanding of Agile and a thorough enough adoption of Agile across the industry for it to be mainstream? 

IMHO, the answer is not yet.  The reasons are that I am not sure if companies have fully "realized" what Agile is and how to implement it.  An indicator is whether enough people or teams who have implemented Agile can recognize common steps to a successful Agile implementation.  Another indicator is whether those that have implemented Agile have actually made the cultural shift (aka, Agile mindset or self-empowered teams, servant-leader mentality, etc. ) in order to gain the benefits of Agile and to make it mainstream?

So what do you think?