There is no doubt that Agile growth in the market is significant, and the growing daily number of inquiries I’ve been getting on Agile from end user organizations in 2012 gives me the impression that many are moving from tactical to strategic adoption. Why’s that? Many reasons, and you can read about them in our focused research on Agile transformation on the Forrester website. But I’d like to summarize the top five reasons from my recent research “Determine The Business And IT Impact Of Agile Development” :

  • Quality was the top — quite astonishing, but both the survey we ran across 205 Agile “professional adopters” and the interviews across some 21 organizations confirmed this. My read is that this is about functional quality.
  • Change was second to quality. We live in an era where innovation strives and organizations are continuously developing new apps and projects. But your business does not necessarily know what it needs or wants upfront. The business really appreciates the due-course changes that Agile development allows, as they enable the business to experiment and try out various options so it can become more confident about what is really right for the organization. Cutting edge cutting edge systems-of-engagement (Mobile, Web-facing, Social-media, etc) require lots of Change in due course.
  • Customer satisfaction came up third, although customer satisfaction might be a comprehensive reason that includes many things (all of the above and below!). Interestingly, there are no hard-and-fast rules that dictate how to measure customer satisfaction or how often to measure it. But two main approaches emerged: the usual customer surveys as well as instrumented software (SW) that measures usage, sales, or revenue.
  • Better business/IT alignment. A continuous feedback loop and collaboration between app dev teams and the business keeps them aligned on what business functionality the project will deliver. Information transparency and continuous flow enable business and IT to remain aligned through the whole ideation to delivery cycle.
  • Finally, speed! Agile offers greater speed from an engineering perspective (for example, via automation of tools and continuous integration and delivery). However, more importantly, through its frequent release of new features, Agile often gives the business the impression that things are moving fast and bette

 Retrospection on both the survey results as well as the qualitative interviews shows an interesting shift toward business values over IT values. Sounds like it is really time to stop thinking about business and IT values of SW development separately and welcome the era of business technology value. While that sounds exciting, we know that measuring business value has never been an easy task for application development. Sometimes this is because business executives don’t necessarily want to be measured by IT. In other cases, app dev leaders hide behind the excuse that their goals do not measure business value but instead focus on structural values such as productivity and quality. I firmly believe it’s time for both business and app dev leaders (BT leaders) to make the shift and leave old habits behind: In the era of business technology, app dev teams are part of the business, and the business is part of app dev teams. I will soon be publishing two pieces of research that explore how Agile and Lean require a big cultural organizational change and how part of that change will involve shifting measurements toward business-driven ones rather than the usual IT-centric and technical ones. This shift in metrics offers a great opportunity for application development leaders to sit at the table as peers with the business.

Determine The Business And IT impact Of Agile Development” also discusses some of the most advanced ways organizations are finding value in Agile: faster cycle time, improved team morale, increased predictability, etc. Take a look!

What impact has Agile had on your organization?

Beyond Agile development, what else do you think helps organizations develop better applications faster?