Monday, February 23, 2009

Is Agile useful now?

Why, yes, Virginia, the times they are a-changing.

You may have noticed a few not-entirely-happy things happening out there in the economy. It might even have affected you and perhaps even your place of work.

So, in what ways is Agile relevant? Now.

First, Agile is even more relevant now than before. (OK, just my assertion so far; see below.)

Second, for reasonable firms, it should be easier to implement Agile now, as there is a greater sense of urgency. (Yes, there are probably some areas with people running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Always some exceptions.)

So, in what ways is Agile helpful?
  1. The team is the best unit to manage. (Organize people into Agile teams, and measure the success of the team.)
  2. Agile teams adapt faster. Probably pretty useful in your neck of the woods just now.
  3. For the team itself: Assuming a strong Agile team, that knows its cost, and knows its "multiple" (now much Bus Value it delivers for its cost), it is far easier to justify its existence in the face of layoff. Anyone getting a 200% return on investment these days? Well, a decent Agile team (with a decent Product Owner) should be getting that almost at a minimum.
  4. Progress. Both in terms of increasing BV (business value) and in terms of increasing Velocity (story points of size/complexity) the team should be able to show a record of getting better all the time.
  5. Faster time to market. That is, we get new products to market before our competitors. Or we respond to competitors faster than they expect us to.
  6. Satisfaction. This one is actually for managers. You might be noticing that some of your people are getting demoralized or are lacking in focus. A normal human reaction. Agile does not have a silver bullet, but there is a great deal of satisfaction in working together in a decent team, and the biweekly or monthly Sprints keep the team focused on delivering. Maybe useful in your area just now.
The transformation to doing Agile (or doing it right) is hard, yet cheap compared to the alternatives. Or so I think, and would be happy to prove.

There are a few thoughts. What else do you find?


Anonymous said...

Great post, really like it! And agree :-)

Another point:
Risk management: if you lose funding you won't be stuck with a functional spec or a non deployable product. You'll have at least something that can be used and generates ROI.

Joe Little said...

Hi Sandy,

Glad you liked it.

Yes, we need to deliver fast. For example, before the next management re-org, which in some places means our stuff should be deployable in, say, 2 weeks. (I-wish-I-were-just-joking smile)

Regards, Joe