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Adopting a Suitable Agile Method Based on Organizational Goals

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Dan Tousignant, Agile Executive Coach and Trainer at Cape Project Management, proposed a matrix to help organizations choose their Agile approach. He said that organizations need to truly understand and embrace the change they are about to embark upon.

Dan mentioned that at the high level, organizations need to outline their Agile goals and define expectations by asking following questions:

  1. Does the company want to deliver products more frequently to improve project success?
  2. Does it need to be “leaner” and more efficient with existing resources?
  3. Does the company need to improve customer satisfaction, quality with the software it delivers?
  4. Is the organization new, or is it one that’s trying to reinvent itself and have a more empowered culture?

Dan proposed following matrix to choose suitable Agile method, as per organizational goals:

If you are not willing to embrace cultural change, do not use scrum or XP instead consider Kanban, SAFe, DAD, or an internally developed hybrid instead.

If you don't have engineering best practices and support tools, such as automated regression testing and continuous integration, then you are not ready for Agile. Step back and institute these processes first before building a new project management approach on top of a flawed foundation.

InfoQ interviewed Dan about the Agile adoption matrix,

InfoQ: You mentioned that many organizations assume Agile as a developmental change. Why most of the organizations take Agile implementation as a developmental change and what is the impact of this thinking?

Dan: Many organizations in the late 1990’s and early 2000 implemented standard project management methodologies and project management offices (PMOs). I was actively involved in those implementations and found that even those implementations were underestimated. They introduced new reporting requirements, career paths and performance expectations. Those were very developmental changes yet were still difficult to implement effectively due to the resistance to change. Most late-adopter organizations of Agile are treating it as just another methodology. They are resistant to change their relatively new project management model so they are treating Agile as a new process, not a holistic change in the way the organization needs to work.

InfoQ: What made you think about creating a matrix for choosing appropriate Agile methodology?

Dan: Everybody seems to want a checklist approach for Agile. It is why the more complicated scaling frameworks are getting traction. I am a firm believer in K.I.S.S (Keep it Simple…). If most organizations were aware of the different Agile options and understood the pros and cons of each, they may implement Agile very differently.  This matrix is about as simple as it gets to understand that there are different Agile options.

InfoQ: Would you like to share your experience of using this matrix?

Dan: Unfortunately, I am often hired once the decision to adopt Scrum or Kanban has already been made in order to provide training or coaching. I currently use it in trainings, sales calls and consulting engagements to help organizations reflect upon their current implementation and give them an opportunity to see why they are struggling. I think this is the missing piece for a lot of organizations who are trying to implement Agile. They need to understand that there is most likely an Agile approach that is a perfect first step for their organization.

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