Top 7 trends in the Agile community for 2011


Enterprise Business Agility has arrived and is here to stay.  The case studies continue to pop up to support the successes of cultural transformation and waterfall is in the distant rear view mirror as something your dad did. Every customer we have visited this past year has been keenly interested in talking about Agile, the benefits, the risks, the journey.   From traditional bottom up SMB adoption to top down Enterprise adoption, at CollabNet we are focused on meeting with companies of all types and coaching them on how to successfully maneuver the path to Agility.  With business agility a top priority for many organizations, I was asked by the editors to do a quick round up on where we are going in 2011.  Below is my top 7 list of trends to look for within the Agile community.

Lean.  The old is new again.  The values from the Toyota Production System are back.  To me, the focus is on, or at least should be on, increasing throughput. (The concept of diligently monitoring the product development cycle from feature requirements to release is critical. I see this as an integral part of how a business understands and applies the value proposition and processes of Agility.)

Increased vendor acquisition and financing. Mergers and acquisitions are a reality of life, and especially in today’s economic environment.  As the agile market matures we will continue to see acquisitions, as larger companies see the market opportunity.

Why? As larger software vendors enter the agile market today’s agile vendors will naturally be faced with buy vs. build decisions to stay competitive.  Some will build and some will buy, but none of these players will have the luxury of taking a 'do nothing' approach.  Why hasn't this happened already?  The total market size has been too small so it hasn’t been on the radar screen of the M&A divisions at larger companies.  In 2003, there were 327 CSMs in the world.  Today there are over 100,000.   So we’re now seeing the type of growth (with enough zeros) that attracts the largest players.

I had an interesting conversation with some public relations folks at the Agile 2010 Conference held in Orlando last year. We were speculating that by 2015 all of the booths at the show would have the larger software company logos that we all recognize.  The beginnings of this could be seen in acquisitions such as Danube, the Agile tool and training company I founded, which was acquired by CollabNet back in February 2010.  Recently Atlassian raised over $60m to fuel growth and get owner liquidity.   With consolidation and investment accelerating, we will see companies failing, consolidating, or falling off the radar screen.   All in all, this is good news for the consumer as competition and cash injections tend to drive vendors to improve product offerings.

Scrum Alliance. The troubles and turbulence of the Scrum Alliance came to a zenith in 2010. Managing and creative director turnover as well as board turnover, employee outsourcing, and continued outrage over the "C" word have left this non-profit trying to re-invent itself.  We will continue to see how the new leadership responds - so far so good.  Onwards and upwards are my projections, as well as a re-birth of the Certified Scrum Developer that will keep Microsoft’s efforts to do the same at bay.

ALM 2.0. As the agile tools market converges with the traditional application lifecycle management platform market, we will see a renewed commitment of vendors in these markets to serve the marketplace better.  The value proposition?  Requirements to release Agile project management meets complete traceability of your underlying technical assets. The company to take the lead here will establish a firm foothold in the market and will recognize continued success in 2011.

Human Resources. How do organizations recruit agile talent?  How do they handle individual performance reviews when those individuals are members of a scrum team?  Who does the review for the Product Owner? Are reviews even needed?  Historically, this is an area few thought leaders in the industry have spoken about. With agile going mainstream,  I suspect this is an area that will require more thought leadership to help guide organizations and to help these organizations nurture and support their agile communities.  Expect greater insight in this area in 2011 from within your company, as well as from external thought leaders.

Downstream effects. This is something I heard David West of Forrester speak about at the Agile 2010 conference.  The concept is simple - if you get a Scrum team up and running and they realize substantial productivity gains talked about by folks like Jeff Sutherland, then what are the downstream effects or impacts to the rest of the business?  If your old team was producing one release a year, and now they are scheduled to release 6 times this year, how does this impact marketing that normally planned one big yearly launch at the annual trade show?  Until now - the development teams could simply be ignored - but with the buzz around Agility - no more.   If you are on a Scrum team, expect to hear more from the sales and marketing people in your business as they learn more about what this means for them.

Systems Integrators. Within the past year I was fortunate to travel extensively - over 100,000 miles of international travel - and in my travels I was able to go to India.  India is big, it’s congested and most problems are solved with the help of other people.  In the truest economic sense, there is a labor surplus.  Think about it this way, the top 3 SI's in India have as many software developers as there are in the entire American market.  Agile communities or Centers of Excellence are emerging at all of the large SI's I visited in India. They are taking Agility seriously because their customers are demanding it.  Expect to see Agile specific offshoring emerging at a much faster pace and larger scale than we are seeing within the organizations of those who have been in the game for years (Valtech, SolutionsIQ, ThoughtWorks).  2011 will prove to be a trial and error year for most SI's as a means towards scaling and monitoring.  In 2012 we will see emerge formalized Go To Market strategies from these System Integrators, whose customers are pushing them in that direction.

I hope this short summary of the top 7 trends I am seeing helps you formalize your plans for agile adoption in 2011.  I’d be interested in hearing your feedback.

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