The Top Five Reasons Companies Adopt Agile
We know that a great number of companies have and continue to adopt Agile workflows, but do we know why? This survey wanted to find out.
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It is a good question: why do companies choose to adopt Agile? It is not easy to challenge old habits and refactor organizational structure. Some Agile principles are not intuitive and often meet resistance. The data supports that most adopters see significant benefits, but what are the reasons that companies choose to start the journey? Let’s look at the top five reasons from a recent survey conducted by Collabnet VersionOne.
The survey gathered responses from a variety of organization sizes, locations, and industries. There were 1,492 usable responses from Agile professionals. The top five industries from which respondents identified were Technology (24%), Financial Services (17%), Professional Services (9%) and Insurance (7%). (2018, Collabnet VersionOne)
The number one reason companies chose to begin their Agile journey was to “Accelerate software delivery,” said seventy-five percent of respondents. This was a compelling reason at my company as well. I work for the software development division in a global manufacturing company that is four years into an Agile implementation. The manufacturing plants are our customers. Prior to this implementation, we were on a 12- to 18-month delivery cycle that was expensive and too often delivered enhancements that were wrong for the plants. Many features went unused. The thought of sprinting on a two-week cycle and highly compressed release loop was very attractive. We needed to get the right enhancements to the plants faster.
The number two reason that 64% of respondents chose was to “Enhance ability to manage changing priorities.” Having software development responsibility for some Healthcare plants, I can certainly attest to the value in adapting quickly. Nothing changes priorities faster for a healthcare plant than an audit finding. Doing all the planning up front (phased approach) does not work well when confronted with unexpected adjustments. Planning in short Sprint cycles is necessary when priorities change quickly.
At 55%, the number three reason was to “Increase productivity.” Agile Scrum is constructed around a framework that has extracted most of the traditional software development process. As Jeff Sutherland says, all software development “process is waste.” Therefore, Scrum was designed around a structure with a “small process footprint” — as small as possible. Also, there is no greater waste than developing something that the customer does not need or want. Therefore, we inspect and adapt. We all need the right product and we need to build it as efficiently as possible.
To “Improve business/IT alignment” was the fourth reason. Forty-nine percent of the respondents chose this reason. In the years before Agile Scrum at my company, I was constantly asked about features in the coming releases. Each division wanted their own demos. I now direct them all to the Sprint Review sessions. We have two-week Sprints and a review meeting every other Tuesday morning at 9:15. After two releases, the review sessions were heralded by the business as transformative. Today, we enjoy a very close connection with the business. The best I have seen in more than twenty years at my company.
The fifth reason was to “Enhance software quality.” Forty-six percent of the respondents chose this reason. After using Scrum methods for two release cycles at my company, the cumulative cost in development for the same level of deliverable was down 50%. Code defects were reduced by 30%. Prior to Agile, we had always used a phased approach. It occurs to me that with a phased approach for a release, scope and sequence of features are fixed. The variable is quality. With Agile, quality is fixed, and scope and sequence are variable. A much better approach when quality is key.
In summary, the top five reasons companies choose to adopt Agile are because they want to deliver the right product at the right time as quickly and efficiently as possible. And they want to build it right the first time. Sounds like good business. Sounds like Agile.
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