Quantifying Agile

14 Mar

There have been a number of attempts to quantify Agile adoption – i.e. to measure the “Agility” of a team. The appeal is obvious. If an Agile maturity model could be defined in a quantifiable manner, then it would be possible to grade individual teams:

Team 1

70% Agile – could do better.

Team 2

85% Agile – almost there!!

Team 3

No metrics.

The visibility this affords would provide Team 1 & Team 2 with tangible feedback and aspirational goals. To take this example further – if you were able quantify Agile adoption, then you would also be able to make informed strategic decisions and justify the existing development approach:

Let’s say you are the CIO. You pay £10,000 to bring in Agile trainers. One year later you want to measure the value of your investment. You ask Team 3 – who attended the training – and they say: “Yes we adopted it. We’re Agile”. You look at the team’s deliverables and see no improvement to their output. The quality, cost and timing for delivery have remained unchanged.  Do you attribute this to Team 3 failing to implement Agile (i.e. due to a low level of adoption) or was Agile the incorrect approach for this team (i.e. due to the nature of the product another approach would have had greater efficacy)?

It’s certainly an interesting question. If you would like to quantify Agile adoption – you could look at the following resources:

i)              Thoughtworks Agile Self Assessment: http://www.agileassessments.com/online-assessments/agile-self-evaluation

ii)             Nokia Test (a.k.a The ScrumButt Test): http://jeffsutherland.com/nokiatest.pdf

iii)           Agile Maturity Model: http://www.drdobbs.com/architecture-and-design/the-agile-maturity-model-amm/224201005

iv)           Agile Artefact Audit: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd997580.aspx

v)             Agile Health Scorecard: http://illustratedagile.com/files/agile-health-dashboard-template.xlsx

Although the above techniques are valuable – there is a restriction when attempting to quantify Agile adoption. “Agile” is a concept; it is based on an aspirational manifesto: http://agilemanifesto.org/. The manifesto is descriptive (e.g. you should value customer collaboration) – rather than prescriptive (e.g. you should produce a customer collaboration tracker which should be reviewed biweekly with the PMO team). The reach of “Agile” as a concept/archetype means that measuring Agile adoption will always be an imprecise science.


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