A strength of the Comparative Agility assessment is that it was designed to lead to actionable results. Like the other assessments, the results point first to a shortcoming in one of the seven dimensions, but unlike other assessment approaches, drilling into that dimension reveals the specific characteristic the organization is struggling with. This should help the team or its ScrumMaster more easily identify actions to take. For example, if we were to look into the low score for quality in Figure 1, we would see that there are three characteristics to the quality dimension: automated unit testing, customer acceptance tests, and timing.
Because the CA approach assesses each characteristic individually, it is possible to see which of these characteristics is dragging down the organization’s overall quality score.
The comparative nature of the CA assessment was intended to be its biggest strength. By seeing how your organization compares with other organizations, improvement efforts can be focused on the most promising areas.
The most significant weakness of CA is the breadth of the survey. The survey includes over 100 questions about the development process. There are two common solutions:
- Perform a full assessment only once or twice a year. (Quarterly might be acceptable and relevant in some organizations.)
- Assess only one of the seven dimensions per month.
The Comparative Agility assessment is a proven way for teams and organization to check their progress, either against themselves at a prior time or against a comparative set of benchmark data. By using the results of a Comparative Agility Assessment to periodically reflect on what your team does well and could improve at, you will be able to help the team become more agile. This in turn will help the team achieve the real goal of delivering better products more quickly.
About the Author
Mike Cohn is the founder of Mountain Goat Software ( http://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com), where he teaches and coaches on Scrum and agile development. He is the author of Succeeding with Agile: Software Development with Scrum, Agile Estimating and Planning, and User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development. Mike is a founding member of the Scrum Alliance and the Agile Alliance. He can be reached at www.mountaingoatsoftware.com.