agile Adoption in the Enterprise

In a recent article in Visual Studio Magazine, agile reporter John K. Waters corroborates the growing influence of agile project management practices, citing a keynote presentation from Forrester analyst Dave West at the HP Virtual Conference 2009. According to Waters, West had this to say about the current state of agile:

The movement to Agile is fundamentally changing the way in which organizations build software. In situations where the requirements and the technology are far from understood — where there’s a lack of clarity — processes become more and more complicated. So a traditional approach, which requires planning, can’t possibly work.

This is good news, right? Just more evidence that the industry’s adoption of agile methods has grown because they actually work. However, West went on to explain the trends Forrester in greater detail, which likely worried Scrum purists:

When you ask them in a little bit more detail what that really means—when you pull back the covers—you find that there’s no one particular approach… It might mean Agile-driven approach, but it’s actually a combination or hybrid… This is great news… It shows that developers pick the appropriate tools to solve the right problem, which means that we’re moving away from this rigorous, sequential, defined, documented process to something that’s a little bit more fluid, in direct response to business need.

In West’s mind, organizations mixing and matching techniques and methodologies can be great: It simply means that companies are being very selective about which processes they adopt and making sure that they address the particular business challenges they face.

But for those of us who practice by-the-book Scrum, we know that the key to unlocking Scrum’s myriad benefits is a direct result of operating within the boundaries the framework sketches out. That is, Scrum only includes a handful of roles, meetings, and artifacts. When one is neglected or removed, it impacts the framework’s ability to deliver the benefits it advertises.  Additionally, intentionally leaving out the ‘hard stuff’ probably undermines the goal of most Scrum transformations – remember – Scrum is hard and disruptive on purpose.

Additional Reading: Interested in doing research on a Scrum transformation – Danube’s whitepapers can help!

What do you think? If your organization utilizes Scrum, is it combined with other processes or is it used by-the-book?  Is this by choice (because you want to) or by force (because of some external dependency)?

Laszlo Szalvay

Laszlo Szalvay is one of the foremost Scrum experts in the software industry. At CollabNet he oversees the company’s global Scrum business, helping organizations adopt and scale Scrum-based initiatives to drive productivity and quality improvements. He creates engagement frameworks to forge lasting Agile-process transformations at customer sites, using a personal approach to teaching and implementing Lean/Agile/Scrum processes as a means of achieving greater IT agility. He is expert at leading successful distributed Agile environments (usually with an Indian or Chinese offshore model), and addressing cultural nuances, replication issues, and capital and headcount resource requirements. Prior to CollabNet, Szalvay co-founded and led operations for Danube, a leader in Scrum tools and training, before it was acquired by CollabNet. He is an active industry thought leader, having written and contributed hundreds of articles, presentations and blogs on improving software delivery through Scrum. Since mid-2010, Szalvay has traveled more than 330,000 miles throughout Europe, Asia and North America, working with CollabNet customers and partners to gain a unique perspective of the complexities and success strategies of a globally distributed software organizations.

Posted in Agile
3 comments on “agile Adoption in the Enterprise
  1. Our team start moving to Scrum seven month ago. We don’t have any practice experience in agile project, most previous project was made with RUP.
    We start from combining various practice from RUP and agile. In next few month we gradually add new agile practice – retrospective, sprint arrangement meetings… We evaluate this practice, try to adopt to our project.
    But currently we still have big lack in Product Owner role and try to compensate it with other practice.

  2. Thank you for this post Laszlo. It isn’t surprising that enterprises are picking and choosing the methods and practices from the various agile frameworks. They have ingrained politics and culture to consider, which I’ll assume has not included agile principles.

    We are lucky in that we can follow by the book scrum. We have also implemented the XP practices of TDD and continuous integration. Lately I’ve been looking at using Kanban for my personal task list, and seeing how it might fit in with our work.

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