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Agile And Scrum as a mass Phenomenon? The Analysis of the latest trends.

According to the Digital.ai – 15th State of Agile Report 2021, Scrum is the most popular framework used by 2/3 of agile teams. One of the reasons for Scrum’s popularity is the more than twofold increase in implementing the agile approach in organizations between 2020 and 2021. This article shows the latest research relating to Agile implementations and analysis of software projects which answers what prompts companies to increase their agility and how this approach helps them achieve success in a constantly changing world.

What does Scrum have to do with rugby?

For the first time, the term ‘Scum’, in the product development context, was used by Japanese scientists – Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi – in the Harvard Business Review article in 1986. The authors, referring to the method of resuming in rugby, described a new holistic approach to developing commercial products that would increase speed and flexibility. Using analogy to rugby, where one team tries to achieve the goal as one unit by passing the ball back and forth, they indicated that businesses could successfully adapt this method to product development.
In 1995 during the conference in Texas, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber described and named the Scrum approach to software development. They also contributed to the creation of the Agile Manifesto in 2001. And in 2010, they created the Scrum Guide. (Read the article article: Scrum without icing).
Currently, Scrum is the most popular framework for the Agile methodology implementation.

Agile as a stabilizing force in uncertain times

The agile approach includes many methodologies such as Kanban, ScrumBan, XP, Scrum / XP Hybrid. The Digital.ai report shows that Scrum is the most popular approach used by 66% of agile teams. This popularity of Scrum has its source in the ever-growing popularity of Agile in organizations.

Therefore it is worth looking at the latest research that explains why Agile has become an almost mass phenomenon in recent years and what makes organizations increasingly strive to implement this approach.

According to The Digital.ai report, there was more than a twofold increase in Agile implementations in teams between 2020 and 2021 (37% => 86%). Its impact had a global pandemic that forced the organization to adapt quickly to changes in the business environment. Many organizations had to implement new approaches to operate effectively. The results of the report and the latest trends indicate that Agile has the potential to become a stabilizing force in uncertain, unpredictable times.
The agile approach is no longer the domain of software development, although it is still the organization’s main area in which agile principles and practices are applied. The answers of the research respondents show that also IT, operational, marketing and HR teams increasingly turn to agile: IT departments (63%), operational departments (29%), marketing (17%), and HR (16%).

Enhancing management of priorities changes

The most common reason for implementing Agile in a team or an organization is – apart from the desire to accelerate software delivery – enhancing the ability to manage changing priorities. Over 64 % of the respondents indicated this factor as the main reason for the Agile transformation. Among other reasons are: visibility – 66%, Business/IT alignment, 64% – Delivery speed/time to market, 60% – Team productivity, 52% – Managing distributed teams, 51% – Predictability, 49% – Risk reduction.

Managing changing priorities is also one of the most frequently indicated areas in which Agile implementation positively impacts the organization (other areas: 70 % – Visibility, 66% – Business/IT alignment, 64% – Delivery speed/time to market., 60% – Team productivity, 52% – Managing distributed teams 51% – Predictability, 49% – Risk reduction, 45% – Software quality).

Interesting in this context is how organizations measure the success of Agile transformation. As many as 59% of respondents indicated that success is measured by customer/user satisfaction and business value (58%). Other respondents indicated 50% – Business objectives achieved, 48% – On-time delivery, 48% – Quality, 41% – Productivity.

Agile AT Scale

A trend that has emerged more and more often is the scaling of the Agile approach: implementing it in multiple teams.
According to Dean Leffingwell, Co-founder and Chief Methodologist of Scaled Agile, the future requires:

  • agile at scale:
    It’s worth mentioning that The Digital.ai report shows that to scale Agile, organizations most often use Scaled Agile Framework (SAF-e) – 37%.
  • being able to achieve DevOps
    DevOps combines two areas: development and operation, into one smooth process between what we create and how it works.

    The awareness and importance of DevOps in organizations are constantly growing. As many as 74% of The Digital.ai respondents indicate that the DevOps initiative is already in progress or planned. DevOps helps increase the frequency and reliability of software deliveries while reducing production errors. The report found that acceleration of delivery speed (67%) and quality improvement (61%) are the most critical measures of success.
  • have everybody operating with an agile mindset
  • having the leaders undestanding that this is a new way of working

The greater success rate in agile software projects

The popularity of the agile approach in projects undoubtedly results from its greater effectiveness. Interesting findings have been presented in the The Standish Group’s Chaos Report 2015, analyzing data from over 10 000 software projects from 2011-to 2015, segmented according to the approach – agile and waterfall, and the results.
The results for all types of projects show that Agile projects have an almost four times higher success rate than waterfall projects, and waterfall projects have three times higher failure rate than Agile projects.

Source: The Chaos Report 2015 by Standish Group
Source: Chaos 2020 Beyond Infinity Report

Similar findings present the latest Chaos 2020 Beyond Infinity report, which includes an analysis of over 50,000 software projects.

Regardless of the size, Agile projects scale much better. It is worth noting here that the smaller the project, the smaller the difference between an agile and a waterfall project.

Main Agile challenges

The Digital.ai report also indicate that the main challenges which organizations introducing agile have to face, are:Inconsistencies in processes and practices (46 % of respondents): Naturally, If organization, that has been operating for years, start implementing an agile, it takes time to change the existing processes and approaches.

  • Inconsistencies in processes and practices (46 % of respondents):
    Naturally, If organization, that has been operating for years, start implementing an agile, it takes time to change the existing processes and approaches.
  • Cultural clashes (43 %)
  • General organizational resistance to change (42 %)
  • Lack of skills and experience (42 %)
  • Absence of leadership partcipation (41 %)
  • Inadequate Management support and sponsorship (40 %)

Key success criteria

Source: Chaos Factors of Success 2015 report

According to Chaos Factors of Success 2015 report : “If you want your projects to be more successful, with higher value and greater customer satisfaction, you should carefully consider where you invest your project improvement money”.

The report indicates the key areas worth to invest to ensure project success. In the authors’ opinion, the most worth investing in are:
executive sponsorship skills, emotional maturity environment, user involvement, and optimization services. Its relevance is highlighted by the number of points assigned.

Other essential factors that influence the success of the project are: skilled resources, standard architecture, Agile process.

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