The value of Agile is becoming more evident and being proved in various industries and environments. That is according to the Cprime Agile at Scale Report 2018, which found that the methodology continues to spread beyond its roots in software development.
The software industry continues to be the leader (23.73%) in scaling Agile across organisations. This is to be expected, considering the sector has been using Agile longer, and by extension, had more time to mature their scaled Agile practices.
What is interesting are the other industries adopting the methodology. Despite being highly regulated, financial services (17.8%) and healthcare/pharmaceuticals (11.86%) are increasingly seeing the benefits of Agile.
SAFe® leads the way
As for how organisations are scaling Agile, the aptly named Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is the leading choice at 37%. Coming in second at 17% is Scrum of Scrums.
When selecting the approach and framework, the top reason was its flexibility (50.8%). This was the same reason as the year before, though the number then was slightly higher (59.66%).
Other reasons include proven and published industry standards, best practices, and case studies (36%), the framework’s simplicity (36%), and the company’s internal knowledge of the framework (32%). A year before, the ranking was existing internal knowledge (30.04%) and a strong global community of users (29.18%).
The research found that SAFe® is typically preferred by practitioners, while C-suite executives use Scrum of Scrums. Despite the difference in methodology choice, the expected benefits in scaling Agile were mostly the same, namely enterprise agility, alignment, and visibility.
The one difference is that C-suite is more focused on visibility, while team members add more weight to business value. Beyond this, they are unified in their belief that scaling Agile helps to create the right products at the right budget and get to market faster.
Building upon Agile
The length of time organisations use Agile before scaling was in line with the previous year’s results. Most respondents (32.51%) use Agile for 1-3 years before scaling it, while 21.55% had as much as five years’ experience.
The main roadblocks affecting scaling initiatives were company culture (57.25%), and a lack of experience with Agile (35.11%) and executive support (31.3%). This echoes the sentiment in Agile, where support from the executive level is needed to drive widespread acceptance within the company’s internal culture.
Quality Engineers are great enablers to moving the company culture towards one more suited to Agile delivery. Testing is an activity where you have a hypothesis that the product does what it is required to do and provides value to the customer, then you prove that confidence or find defects.
In an Agile team, testing is either automated, creating fast feedback loops, or the system is explored using session-based testing, underlining the "safe to fail" mindset and encouraging experimentation ("if I do this does it break the system?").
In order to scale successfully, the team must have mastered the basics of Agile. It is not good enough to doing Agile, but they must be Agile.
Often there is a very important step missed, in that they have not been correctly trained. Continuous learning is a tenet of Agile, so teams need to be given time at the beginning to gain an understanding of the essentials, plus opportunity to practice and improve their skills and knowledge.
Quality, in Agile, is the responsibility of the whole team. This is one area where the entire team can learn together.
The concept of building quality in using engineering principles is key. Your Quality Engineers can take the lead in this.
Supporting the team through ensuring that they have the right coverage of tests based on product risk profile, that there is no overlap in testing which is waste, and automating where there is a return on investment.
SAFe® to scale
As the above numbers show, scaling Agile is providing organisations with tangible benefits. However, it comes with a learning curve that first needs to be navigated in order to see success.
At Planit, we use and recommend SAFe® as one way to scale and mature Agile practices. Its unique approach to process improvement helps to increase alignment and visibility across an organisation.
If you are starting on your transformation journey, or feel that you are not getting the value from implementing Agile that you thought, contact us today to find out how our Agile experts can provide training, coaching, and consultancy that will deliver better outcomes sooner.