The State of Agile survey is the longest continuous annual survey of agile techniques and practices, now at its 16th annual report.
“We could not be more excited to launch our 16th annual State of Agile report. The data show that Agile has crossed the chasm beyond software and IT to the entire enterprise, allowing benefits to accrue not just to the software development teams, but to the organisation as a whole, In these dynamic and uncertain economic times adoption of Agile, like DevOps, has continued to accelerate with a focus on orchestration, automation and analytical insights to help organisations maximise the impact of their software investments and win in the marketplace.” Derek Holt, general manager, Agile and DevOps at Digital.ai.
What is working well across Agility?
Agile offers many benefits to businesses that adopt this approach. Many respondents report: a better place to work, people work together more, they have increased visibility into their work and it leads to better alignment to the business needs. These are derived from;
- People-centric values: Agile places a strong emphasis on the importance of individuals and interactions, as well as collaboration and communication. This can lead to better team dynamics and higher morale, as well as more effective problem-solving and decision-making.
- Clear culture: Agile provides a clear set of principles and values that can serve as a guide for organisations. This can help to establish a strong culture that supports collaboration, innovation, and continuous improvement.
- Tools and practices: Agile also provides a range of tools and practices that can help teams to plan, execute, and monitor their work more effectively. These can include agile frameworks such as Scrum and Kanban, as well as agile tools such as user stories and backlogs.
- Leadership empowerment: Agile also places a strong emphasis on empowering leaders to take ownership of their work and make decisions based on the needs of the team and the organisation. This can lead to more effective leadership and a more dynamic and responsive organisational culture.
Among those who are satisfied with Agile practices at their company, seven in ten say they are satisfied because of increased collaboration and over half because of a better alignment to business needs.
The growth of Scaling
The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) has continued to be the most popular framework for agile development, with its use growing from 37% in 2021 to 53% this year. This significant increase in adoption demonstrates the effectiveness that organisations are finding in using SAFe to guide their agile practices.
While SAFe's comprehensive approach to scaling addresses the challenges and complexity of coordinating large, multi-disciplinary teams, it maintains to attract a negative bias from some practitioners. An interesting study from Christiaan Verwijs of the Liberators, based in the Netherlands, sought to challenge his own beliefs about Scaled frameworks, including SAFE by taking a scientific and data driven approach and he arrived at a Sobering reflection;
“The empirical evidence we have to date does not support the negative view that many in the Agile community have of SAFe®.”
Christiaan Verwijs, Is SAFE Really that bad?, The Liberators
This is an important finding, as it suggests that SAFe® could be a viable and effective framework for organisations. The fact that the empirical evidence does not support the negative view of SAFe® does not mean it can or should be used by everyone and it is still highly recommended organisations look to their goals beyond implementation to discover if Scaling is the right approach for you.
The challenges, still trying to be answered
One of the consistent challenges across the history of the survey remains. Implementing Agile requires a shift in mindset and behaviours from traditional, predictive-style approaches. This can be difficult for team members who are used to following rigid plans and strict hierarchies and may require them to learn new skills and ways of working. According to the survey respondents Agile is not something that the business intuitively grasps, company culture and a lack of management support are the leading causes of unsuccessful delivery with Agile.
Another challenge is that Agile often requires a high level of collaboration and communication among team members, which can be difficult to achieve if the team is not well-organised or if there are distractions or interruptions.
Additionally, Agile relies on strong leadership and support from top management, as it requires a commitment to continuous learning, experimentation, and improvement. However, not all leaders may be willing or able to provide this level of support, and may instead put up roadblocks or resist change, hindering the implementation of Agile. Two in five respondents say not enough leadership participation is a barrier to adopting Agile.
Overall, implementing Agile can be a complex and challenging process that requires a willingness to embrace change and learn new ways of working. It is important for businesses to be aware of these challenges and to have strategies in place to overcome them, to successfully implement Agile and reap its benefits.
As usual, the State of Agile gives us a nice snapshot of where we are currently, but it should be used as a leading indicator that points to where we are headed. What’s next from an Agile perspective? The future of work is a hot topic in most workplaces. As a result of the pandemic, we went almost completely remote, and results show that we’re working our way back to a mostly hybrid approach with 51% of respondents mostly working remotely but in the office occasionally.
I believe that JJ Sutherland, CEO of Scrum Inc has summarised the recent finding the best;
“This year’s State of Agile report quantifies what many business leaders have been feeling for some time – agility is now a requirement for future success, those organisations that wait for a ‘perfect’ time to begin will be left watching their agile competitors pass them by.”
Here at QA Ltd, we are finding that simply gathering knowledge is no longer enough to solve the problems facing organisations. We have over 60 agile training courses for all types of roles, knowledge levels and certifications however these are now being complemented by our expert trainers and coaches bringing this learning to life and helping adapt theory into value.