Here’s What The State Of Agile Tells Us

There are a few things the Agile community can set it’s clock by every year. Everyone who can will gather in one place for the Agile Alliance’s yearly conference. The Global Scrum Gathering always manages to get everyone together with a little more focus. Both are on my bucket list, and hopefully I can make it to them soon.

What I’m most familiar with is the State of Agile released by the Scrum Alliance.

Leave it to SA to come up with a perfect way to look back on the previous year’s work and review how Agile we truly are and identify trends. Think of it as a retrospective of the industry.

Here are some key takeaways from the report, which can be downloaded here:

Scrum is still helping people.

When asked if the framework was improving the quality of the work life on teams, 87% of respondents gave a positive answer. That’s insane. Even if you are trying your first sprint, or only trying a few aspects of Scrum for a pilot, something good will happen nearly 9 out of 10 times. I couldn’t ask for more.

Why would anyone consider making this change to how teams work? The top two reasons for using Scrum were “fulfilling customer needs” and “meeting scheduled deadlines”. Its incredibly encouraging that we consider our customers when making these decisions. I even see meeting deadlines as helping users as well. As software gets smaller thanks to mobile, our demand for constant improvement has grown immensely.

How amazing there is a tool for making both happen (that also happen to make teams happier).

Success metrics are more defined than ever.

There are so many ways to get started with Scrum in your company, but according to the survey a few ways are more successful than others. Projects run through PMO with Scrum have a 93% success rate, which seem to indicate some alignment with middle management.

Overall, Scrum projects have a 62% success rate, which is a decent number. However, teams ranging from 4 to 9 people in size have a 77% success rate. That can be incredibly informative when trying to find the right mix of people. Teams that are too large or small aren’t necessarily a death knell to the project, but trying to plan work around a medium sized team can fulfill the Agile principle of working at a sustainable pace.

We’re not out of the woods yet.

Once upon a time, companies would pick a single team to try Scrum out before it rolls out to scale. While that can build some wins for the framework, it can be a bit bumpy when it spreads. Agile teams reported some sort of tension between them and the organization 71% of the time. It could mean the incumbant way of working feels threatened by the new kid on the block, or communication (and transparency) could be improved by leadership.

Which brings us to the idea of sponsorship. Of the respondents, 72% of people think the key factor in Scrum adoption is support from senior management. If leadership can become actively engaged and vocal about the role Agile will play in the future of the organization, things will go a lot smoother.

It’s a word of caution, but also incredibly easy to accomplish for evangelists like us.

What will the next year of Agile bring us?

I can’t wait to participate and see the results it brings!


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