Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Is Agility the Right Thing to Measure?

 If you want to measure agility, you need to be able to measure how well your organizations can respond.

Agility is one of the most important digital capabilities for business to sense, respond, and adapt to changes. But how do you measure the agility of an organization? What indicators do you need to consider that would help you with in-depth understanding where you are and where you are going to? Why would someone want to measure their "agility"? Is "agile" a comparative adjective? Is agility the right thing to measure? Does it matter if one is more or less "agile"?  Does the whole equal to the sum of its parts? And what do those measures enable you to do? Is there always a direct correlation between agility and customer satisfaction? Which measurements are directly affected by being more or less agile in software development? Can "agility" be measured by itself in a vacuum? Should not all measurements be aimed at some business perspective such as "customer satisfaction" or "increase in sales"? Would the organization and software development team be completely "agile" if the business' goals were met based on those measurements? Or does the business gain financial or other benefits simply by having teams score higher on some abstract "agility scale"?

 If you want to measure agility, you need to be able to measure how well your organizations can respond. Given the business is in a state of decline, when you alter the organization to think in an agile mindset, To be “agile,” you need to be able to respond effectively to change. From an agile perspective, the direction is more crucial than an absolute destination. Because often the team cannot have an absolute destination. You have a vision about where you want to go. You may keep changing your destination based on the new learnings during the journey, but direction remains pretty much same. So understand which direction your need to go and frequently reflect on your progress. You can measure the time from when a “radical” new requirement appears until the software is delivered, on each key dimensions...start with, "Doing the right thing" before “doing things right.”And agility measurement needs to focus on:
(1) Timely Delivery achieved frequently and repeatedly.
(2) Response to change quickly.
(3) less cost to customers to support requirement changes.

There is a direct correlation between product value and agility: Part of the Agile is to be focused on achieving productivity/efficiency as a result of a reduction of "bureaucratic waste" - which while it involves the development team extends beyond it:
- time spent on contract negotiation and compliance.
- time spent on creating/tracking/changing detailed plans.
- time spent on ensuring compliance with rigid processes.
- time spent on communicating within and across the teams
- time spent on comprehensive documentations.
- time needed to "onboard" new staff.
- time spent in "managing" the team (conflict resolution etc.).

The legitimate question is what to measure to ensure you will end up with satisfied customers. You're going to measure agility, then you need to also measure how long it takes to get working software into the customer's hands. That is, building the right product and delivering it to a satisfied customer are not unique concepts to the Agile world---those goals have always existed. Being agile helps the business in achieving high customer satisfaction. If you are not able to achieve that then the first diagnosis can be on agility, and if it is found, you are agile enough and reason can be something else too. And then there are three components to successful customer interactions: satisfaction, value, and service. Each can be measured independently, the key pillars supporting this dimension are,
-Product Vision (How well the team understands the product vision)
-Customer collaboration (Constructive partnership with the customer)
-Customer Need (How well the team understood the customer need, "Why")
-Customer feedback (How the team takes care of customer feedback)

Measure employee happiness index: Winning teams create winning products. Being agile means respecting individuals, involving team members in day to day activities etc. In general, people pay too much attention to the notion of "processes" and "tools" to define or indeed measure their "Agility," and too little to established ideas about individual and interactions. The team has to learn "to sharpen the saw" to be effective, and leadership is also crucial for agile success - the concept of the "Situational Leadership" model - the appropriate level of directive or supportive leadership being provided as a team/individual increases their knowledge/skill of a task, dynamically adjusted through observation. The intention is to find possible ways to help the team. There are many things that an organization will do to prevent real agility: not provide training, not empower the teams, not put all the skills necessary to define/build/ deploy the software on a single team, set up bureaucratic obstacles, etc..

Measure things truly matter based on Agile principles. Agility at the end of the day is an enabler for the reasons that the organization set out to build the product and not the other way.When you make a change to a system, you invest effort for some gain to some business value that minimizes side effect to the system as a whole. If the measures are good, they will tell you that you are agile enough. And customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction are signs of agile deployment success.


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