Evolution of Agile: From Development Teams to the Whole Organization


Forrester has a new report titled Navigate The Future Of Agile And Lean. It looks at the progress from the early days of the agile methodology as a tool improving development team productivity to its current state as an approach that’s changing other aspects of organizations.

Forrester estimates that at least 38% of development teams have adopted some form of the agile methodology, and that’s affecting everyone from end users who are seeing more rapid changes in the software they use, to the help desk supporting those users to the operations team deploying changes to the business analysts creating requirements. We’re seeing this play out in the bigger IT ecosystem with things like IBM’s acquisition of GreenHat, its first of the year. Green Hat makes tools that help software testers build virtual test environments more quickly. It’s all part of helping the entire organization keep up with continuous deployment.

The most important aspect of the report is that it emphasizes the value of agile rather than the outcomes themselves. For instance, higher development velocity is an outcome of agile. But that’s not necessarily value. In fact, it could be a problem for testers and customers and compliance. Potential values in velocity include eliminating bugs faster by pushing out bug fixes faster. Goals like “fix bugs faster” rather than “push out as many builds as possible” can greatly improve the value of agile.

Forrester cites compliance and the lack of methodologies for non-development pieces of agile, such as DevOps, as the main challenges for agile. According to Forrester’s research, combining agile with other methods is very common, especially with regards to requirements gathering and compliance. Forrester describes the reality of most agile shops as being water-Scrum-fall rather than either just waterfall Scrum. Forrester predicts that organizations will eventually settle on a truncated w-Scrum-f as methodologies fall into place to help agile work with requirements gathering and compliance.

Forrester recommends firms look into Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) as a means of coping with agile in the organization. “Application life-cycle management (ALM) has the same objective, so it should be no surprise that Agile has re-opened many conversations about ALM processes and tools,” the report says. This fits with what we’ve been seeing. ServicesAngle editor Alex Williams predicts that ALM will be very big in 2012.