How do you know if your investment in Agility has paid-off?

Last post 08:40 pm October 1, 2013
by Eva Bitteker
11 replies
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05:38 am September 30, 2013

Hi all,

When a company is adopting Agile there are usually certain investments that needs to be made. Like hiring Agile trainers, consultants, invest in infrastructures, tooling, certain best practices etc. etc.

These are like (investment) expenses and I can imagine that a manager would like to monitor this and see how his investment in Agility has paid-off.

The question is:
How do you know if your investment in Agility has paid-off? What are the KPI that you would use so measure “successfully Agility implementation?

Cheers, Pab

05:53 am September 30, 2013

This is a big topic, but it is one that Agility Path has started to address:

https://www.scrum.org/agility-path

Slide 13 shows some of the metrics that are involved in gauging the success of an implementation:

http://www.slideshare.net/fullscreen/Ullizee/agility-path/13

06:52 am September 30, 2013

Thanks for the link.
I highly doubt whether the Agility Path will actually address these topics in details. I think (hope not) that it will be like: ok these are the 11 KPI’s that can be used to measure “successful implementation”, how you do it within a company well, that’s something that’s per company different.

Some topics are rather easy to retrieve but some are more difficult, like:
- Revenue per Employee. (how would this be done?)
- Turnaround of new functionality. (how do you know that the new functionality was the cause of this turnaround?)

07:16 am September 30, 2013

Agility Path is very short on details. All we have are a video and a slide deck. Presumably there must be more substance somewhere, because there are over a dozen Agility Path "engagement managers" (!).

As I've noted before, there are other frameworks out there. They have all sorts of problems...but they also have material, and (in comparison) an eye-popping level of transparency. They have every right to be laughing all the way to the bank.

07:43 am September 30, 2013

As I've noted before, there are other frameworks out there. They have all sorts of problems...but they also have material, and (in comparison) an eye-popping level of transparency.

Which frameworks do you recommend? I believe there is not a single framework out there that doesn't have a problem, so if there are frameworks now that are mature enough to use, please let me know :)

08:47 am September 30, 2013

> Which frameworks do you recommend?

I wouldn't give a general recommendation for any, but I have high hopes for Lean Startup. It turns the matter of which metrics to use around, and uses growth as a learning engine.

> I believe there is not a single framework out there that doesn't have a problem, so if there are
> frameworks now that are mature enough to use, please let me know :)

The Scaled Agile Framework (www.scaledagileframework.com) tries to take a governance and strategic investment view of how much value is being delivered. It is in wide use but it is controversial...Ken Schwaber has panned it: http://kenschwaber.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/unsafe-at-any-speed/

09:47 am September 30, 2013

Thanks for the info Ian!

04:04 pm September 30, 2013

There are many metrics that can be used to measure this. Rally posted a good many articles. HJere is one: http://www.rallydev.com/sites/default/files/Agile_Impact_Report.pdf

05:14 pm September 30, 2013

How do you know if your investment in Agility has paid-off? What are the KPI that you would use so measure “successfully Agility implementation?

The shift in thinking that Agility Path formalizes is to measure value creation as opposed to project level metrics. What the asker usually cares about is how the organization got better as a result of the agile implementation. The Agility Index Snapshot would give the company a baseline against those metrics from which to observe trends. An investment in Agility would be considered successful if it started increasing the value measured by them over time.

ok these are the 11 KPI’s that can be used to measure “successful implementation”, how you do it within a company well, that’s something that’s per company different.

The absolute numbers will differ from company to company, the trend over time will be relevant in any context.

05:35 pm September 30, 2013

In addition to Eva's answer, we also compare a meld of metrics of like companies within a standard industry code.

Let's look at one example:
An organization wanted to accomplish something pretty daunting. They pulled together a group of developers. The first step was to assess their ability to build high value product rapidly. To figure this out, they were given assessments (by manager, product owner, and developers), the practices they were using were assessed (by enterprise, value, quality, productivity, and process category), the above operational and enterprise metrics were gathered, and their "agility index" was calculated. They were found to be way short of what was needed.
Contractors were brought in that paired with their staff, trained them, coached them, and mentored them (not all at once). They did this while starting to develop the products. At the end of six months and twelve months, the above stated measures were retaken. Coaching, new standards and tools, and adjustments were made. Bad code and design was refactored out.
At the end of twelve months they were well underway.

We don't disclose all of the details of Agility Path. Much of it is IP. If you have the skills to either be a trainer or engagement manager for Scrum.org, we license you, train you, and you use them as above.

Ken

05:03 am October 1, 2013

> We don't disclose all of the details of Agility Path. Much of it is IP. If you have
> the skills to either be a trainer or engagement manager for Scrum.org, we license
> you, train you, and you use them as above.

Presumably the algorithmic parts would be the IP, i.e. what metrics are used and how they are interpreted and applied to decision making.

Surely though, there must be scope for making the mechanics of Agility Path more transparent. For example, I wonder about:

- Where Product Ownership of the Practice Backlog resides. Is it with the client organization, such that a CxO level executive has ownership? Or is an engagement manager the PO?
- How does a Scrum Master, as an organizational change agent, contribute to Agility Path implementation?
- How is release management approached? For example, is "release train" planning ever on the Practice Backlog?
- More generally, how is portfolio and project planning approached? What goes on the Practice Backlog with regard to strategic planning? Are products roadmapped out? To what extent is rolling-wave planning and vision supported? What best practices are coached to Product Owners regarding these matters?
- Even more generally, what sort of practices go on the Practice Backlog. Scrum patterns, perhaps? Examples might help.

All we need, I think, is a short PDF that covers these matters and sets out the stall a bit better. Something a bit like the Scrum Guide, but for Agility Path. Just 8 or 10 pages would probably do it. For whatever it's worth, I'm willing to help, and I'm sure that others in the scrum.org community are as well.

08:40 pm October 1, 2013

Agility Guide - Will be out soon along with a more robust website. It will give you background on managing the change in the organization associated with increasing agility.