Research Summary into Agile-Scrum Maturity based on UK surveys

Agile-Scrum Maturity was assessed via 166 Survey questions in UK VLEs.

The intent was to locate the key variables in Agile-Scrum maturity.

Detailed multi-variate ANOVA analysis was performed on the data.

The research questions were:

RQ: ‘What are the managerial implications of Agile-Scrum methodology for the delivery of Enterprise IT projects?’

S-RQ1: What are the key maturity issues and factors in using Agile-Scrum within VLEs?

S-RQ2: What are the key factors of success in using Agile-Scrum within VLEs?

The following table provides key insights from all the surveys, in answering the RQs.

Table:  RQ’s and Insights

RQ:  Key insights Managerial Implications
1 COE is positively co-related to many key variables for success   -COE with formal authority, expertise, budget, training, coaching, setting standards, ensuring scalability -Agile-Scrum changes the organization and culture
2 Co-location, Team Size, Team Dedication,   -GDAD with Agile-Scrum is difficult to manage and monitor

-Development, Operations by area need to be co-located, which means a rethink of IT development and operations

-Team Size should be less than eight people though larger teams can still have success if possessing mature Agile experience and skills

-Teams must be dedicated to the project given the iterative and sprint-focus work of Agile-Scrum, this impacts resource management
4 More Agile experience (six years) appears to be co-related with Agile-Scrum success -Agile-Scrum is a long-term investment and failure should be expected and encouraged as part of the learning process -Means long-term management thinking, budgeting and training
5 SMART projects succeed better   -Smaller, defined projects, that are realistic have a much better chance with Agile-Scrum, than vague, large, cross-domain projects

-Impacts project size, relevancy and proper KPI measurement

-Business intimately involved with the Agile team
6 Budgeting -Budgeting for Agile IT projects should move from yearly Waterfall, to incremental funding based on results
7 Agile maturity is dependent on the Agile Team Environment and Organizational variables See the following sections

 

I used an Agile-Scrum Maturity Model or ASMM, I developed covering the 43 critical variables of Scrum-Agile and assessed these using an ordinal ranking for maturity.  Ordinal ranking:  1 is very immature or non-existent to 5 which is ideal.  3 is sustainable.

The ASMM framework used in the research, revealed that 50% of projects succeeded when ‘Agile Usage’ was sustainable or better (ranking of 3 or more out of 5); with 80% of projects deemed successful when the variable ‘Agile Usage’ was sustainable or better.  Agile Usage is directly co-related with the Agile COE (FGMS).  ‘Agile Usage’ is concerned with the following given in the below table including roles, purpose, cultural fit  and a process which is clearly documented and understood.  Agile Usage is a proxy variable for maturity (Chikhale & Mansuri, 2015).

Table:  Agile Usage (from ASMM)

Area Impeded (1) In Transition (2) Sustainable (3) Agile (4) Ideal (5)
  Agile usage Not using Agile Using some form of Agile-Scrum, not well understood including roles, not documented, no central philosophy or document with overarching purpose, objective, cultural changes Agile document made with principles, roles, purpose, and cultural fit with organisation.  Understood within IT by >50% of teams, or by >70% on a single team Agile document made with principles, roles, purpose, and cultural fit with organisation.  Understood within IT by >70% of teams, or by >80% on a single team Agile-Scrum is a part of the culture and de-facto standard across the team and projects and the Agile philosophy is accepted as the cultural norm

 

H1: Organization’s which are immature in their understanding of Agile-Scrum, will not achieve project success (hypothesis).

H0: Organization’s which are immature in their understanding of Agile-Scrum, will achieve project success (null hypothesis)

The data directly supports this hypothesis and in particular, the key aspects of Agile Organization and Team Environment. The following Table summarizes the managerial implications of this insight.

Table:  Agile Organization and Team

Agile Organization Team Environment
Key Variable Managerial Implications Key Variable Managerial Implications
Agile Usage Documentation, clear understanding of Agile-Scrum, Roles Team Size Small, Cross-functional skills, SMART projects
Culture Active change management Dedicated Team Resources are not shared
Centre of Excellence Establish, empower, ensure SMART projects; long term investment in Agile-Scrum Agile Roles Training, Understanding, Buy-in
Training On-going, multi-faceted Trust Cultural values of Agile
Change Management Training, change request processes re-engineered Business Owner (BO) Business trained in Agile processes
C Suite Support Communications, Reporting, Long-term investment Stakeholder support Senior Management, Business embedded
Budgeting Waterfall to Agile cycles, long-term investment Skills of the team SME knowledge
Project Management No Waterfall used, proper understanding of Agile-Scrum Colocation SMEs together
Self-Organized Empowerment
Impediments (ability to remove) Access, power to remove obstacles

The key managerial success factors in using Agile-Scrum can be found in the above table and correlates with the SLR.  These issues are not technical in nature but deal with organizational and Agile-Scrum maturity (Marnewick & Langerman, 2018).  An example is co-location of teams, as one survey comment stated:

“[Colocation-A3-Col01] Agile methodologies are inefficient and not really geared towards large organizations.  One of the main principals is co-location, and until Client embraces that principle the efficiencies of Agile will not be realized and therefore it will be a broken methodology.”

Key findings from a SLR which are supported in this study, include:

  • Recognition that Agile-Scrum is a cultural transformation,
  • C Suite and Senior management support,
  • Need for training, change management,
  • Dedicated, empowered and small teams,
  • SMART projects, with proper project management,
  • Co-location,
  • Center of Excellence

(Niazi, et al. 2016, Denning 2018).

Immaturity in practice will negatively impact requirements engineering, coding cycles, testing and delivery (Jorgensen, 2018).  This research confirms Uludag et al’s (2018) study indicating that smaller teams of less than 10 people, are more likely to be successful. This research also supports extant studies, that successful implementations of Agile-Scrum occur in mature environments (Sutherland, Jakobsen, & Johnson, 2008) and that organizations require a long-term investment constituting many years, to attain higher levels of maturity (Stojanov et al 2015; Kim et al 2016 study of Agile-Scrum in Samsung).  These studies suggest that Team and Organizational issues are primary key success factors, and this is confirmed by this research (Darwish, 2015).  This research also conforms to large scale international market surveys in 2018, by Scrum-Alliance and Forbes.

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