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InfoQ Homepage News Survey Confirms Biggest Agile Challenges Are Communication and Continuous Improvement

Survey Confirms Biggest Agile Challenges Are Communication and Continuous Improvement

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A new survey, conducted by Serena Software at the recent Agile 2012 conference in Dallas, Texas has confirmed that whilst projects using Agile are working well, they could be much better and some of the biggest challenges include upsteam and downstream communication.

The research centered on what is working with regards to [the] agile development methodology, the extent of agile adoption in enterprise IT organizations today, biggest challenges and more. The key findings revealed that development teams have united on agile practices, but lack the communication with customers, operations and other development teams, which slow projects and agile success.

The first key theme from the survey results was that "Agile is doing well enough, but could be better". Customer satisfaction showed that 52% of customers were happy with Agile projects (15% were unhappy). It also showed that Agile adoption is still not spreading as widely throughout the enterprise as many would have hoped with 49% of respondents saying that all or most of their organization is doing Agile (the other 51% are doing some or little Agile).

The second key theme was that communication is still a big challenge. Prioritizing customer demand and working with non-Agile teams were the biggest challenges reported by both management and development staff, followed by communicating with customers and integrating code with other teams. Interestingly, in relation to the adequate testing of sprints, management and developers were in disagreement with 25% of management and 49% of developers reporting it as a challenge, perhaps showing that Agile practices and tooling still have a way to go and more work is required to educate management on the importance of building quality in.

Further to communication, the third theme was that stakeholders (upstream and downstream) need to have more involvement with releases. According to the survey, customers, support and IT operations are only involved in standups less than 22% of the time and have visibility of releases less than 45% of the time.

Even though they are the first line of response, IT Operations and Support are involved with less than 40% of release plans.  But considering that the Agile Manifesto’s "highest priority is to satisfy the customer," what’s even more surprising is that customers only have visibility into releases 45% of the time.  

Kevin Parker summed his thoughts on his BizTechFuturist blog about the results of the survey:

Clearly this is an important signpost to what is really going on in our development community. As much as the Agile Manifesto eschews processes and tools it seems that organizations are looking to measure, track and report on the effectiveness of their Agile teams. Perhaps it is time to fine a way to facilitate the Agile team’s ability to self-organize by providing them with Agile tools designed to enhance their interactions, customer collaboration and ability to respond to change.

Te raw data from the survey has not been made publicly available but you can view a copy of the survey infographic at the Serena website. Do these results match with the adoption challenges in your organization?

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