Disciplined Approach to Adopting Agile: Adoption Framework

[article]
Part 1
Summary:
Over the past few years organizations have asked the agile community "Why should we adopt agile practices?" Today, however, they are turning to the agile community, with a different question: "How do we proceed with adopting agile practices?"; Unfortunately, there is no structured approach (at least that is published in the public domain) for agile adoption. The absence of guidance and assistance to organizations pursuing agility is the main problem addressed by this article.

Over the past few years organizations have asked the agile community "Why should we adopt agile practices?" Today, however, they are turning to the agile community, with a different question: "How do we proceed with adopting agile practices?"; Unfortunately, there is no structured approach (at least that is published in the public domain) for agile adoption. The absence of guidance and assistance to organizations pursuing agility is the main problem addressed by this article.

The Agile Adoption Framework, introduced in a two-part article, is an attempt to provide a structured and repeatable approach to guide and assist agile adoption efforts. The Agile Adoption Framework provides an essential ingredient for successfully adopting agile practices, but this alone is not enough. Some element of interpreting the measures and guidance throughout the four stages of the framework is also important- perhaps via an experienced agile coach or an in-house employee with sufficient training on agile methods and the use of the framework.

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Figure 1. The Agile Adoption Framework

The Agile Adoption Framework has two main components: (1) a measurement index for estimating agile potential, and (2) a 4-Stage process that employs the measurement index in determining which, and to what extent, agile practices can be introduced into the organization. Figure 1 illustrates the different components of the framework and the relationships among them.
Part 1 of this article presents the structure and details of the Sidky Agile Measurement Index (SAMI). Each of the four stages in the process will be presented in detail in Part 2 of the article.

The Sidky Agile Measurement Index
One of the concerns organizations have when seeking to adopt agile practices is determining how agile they can become. The agile potential (i.e., the degree to which that entity can adopt agile practices) of projects and organizations is influenced by the circumstances {sidebar id=1} surrounding them. To determine the agile potential, the coach (or the one conducting the assessment) needs use a measurement index or scale that can assess the agility of an entity. The Agile Adoption Framework uses the SAMI to determine the agile potential of projects and organizations. The SAMI is an agile measurement index that is composed of four components:

  1. Agile Levels consist of a set of agile practices that are related and, when adopted collectively, would make significant improvements in the software development process, thereby leading to the realization of a core value of agility.
     
  2. Agile Principles are guidelines that need to be employed to ensure that the development process is agile.
     
  3. Agile Practices and Concepts are the concrete activities and practical techniques used to develop and manage software projects in a manner consistent with the agile principles.
     
  4. Indicators are questions the assessor uses to assess certain characteristics of an organization or project, such as its people, culture, and environment, in order to determine assess the readiness of the organization or project to adopt an agile practice.

Each of component of the SAMI is discussed below.

Agile Levels
Agile levels, as depicted in Figure 2, are considered the units of the measurement scale as they enumerate the different possible degrees of agility for a project or organization. The agile potential of a project or organization is expressed in terms of the highest agile level it can achieve. The attainment of a particular level symbolizes that the project or organization has realized and embraced the essential element needed to establish an agile development process. For example, when the elements inherent to enhancing communication and collaboration are embodied within the development process, then the Agile Level 1 ( Collaborative) is attained. However, before

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