Disciplined Approach to Adopting Agile: Four-Step Process

Part 2

. Therefore, the last three stages provide guidelines for identifying the agile practices suitable for a single project.

Stage 2: Project Level Assessment
Stage 2 is the first stage of the adoption process that utilizes the SAMI. The objective of this stage is to identify the highest level of agility a project can achieve. This is called the target level and is one of the five agile levels of the SAMI. In theory, all projects should aspire to reach the highest level of agility possible. However, the reality is that circumstances, often outside of the organization's control, surround each project. These circumstances become constraining factors if they adversely affect the organization's ability to adopt an agile practice. Thus, constraining factors limit the level of agility to which a project aspires.

For example, the "customer's collaboration commitment" could be a constraining factor if the customer is not willing to commit to a certain level of collaboration with the development team. This factor is considered to be constraining because adopting certain agile practices depends on it [customer's collaboration commitment] and changing it is outside the organization's control.
Because achieving the highest level of agility depends on project circumstances outside of an organization's control, the first step in Project Level Assessment is to identify those agile practices and concepts that rely upon those circumstances for their successful adoption. These agile practices are known as limiting agile practices , because if the project characteristics needed to support these practices are not present, the inability to adopt the practice constrains or limits the level of agility attainable by the project. In Table 1, which illustrates the SAMI, the limiting agile practices are underlined.



Table 1: An instance of the Sidky Agile Measurement Index

The assessment process defined by Stage 2 focuses on determining the target level of agility for a project. More specifically, it examines only those factors associated with the limiting agile practice, and measures the extent to which they are present. The assessment is conducted using the indicators associated with each limiting agile practice (indicators were discussed in Part 1 of this article). The process starts by examining the limiting practices at Agile Level 1, and then moves upward on the scale. Once factors needed for the adoption of a limiting practice are found to be missing, the assessment process stops, and the highest level of agility attainable for the project is set to be the level at which that limiting practice is found.

For example, a limiting agile practice at Level 3 is frequent face-to-face communication . A factor that is needed for frequent face-to-face communication is for the team to be geographically close to each other, or at least have the technology to simulate that. Assume that the project and organization have no say in changing this characteristic (team proximity), because it is outside of their control. If the project level assessment determines that the factor (near team proximity or the technology to simulate it) is missing for this project, then the highest level of agility for this project will be the same level of agility in which this agile practice is found (which is Level 3 in this case). This example is not discussing the issue of global/offshore Agile development, it is simply illustrating an example of project level assessment. Having distributed teams does not eliminate agility but it simply may restrict the "level of agility" the project operates at.

It is also noteworthy to remind the reader that the Sidky Agile Measurement Index (SAMI) is tailorable and hence the location of the practices within the SAMI can

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