Organizational Views of Agile Maturity

The desire for organizational agility is on the rise, according to PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession.

The survey found that more than 25 percent of respondents now use agile project techniques frequently, and that number is likely to keep moving up. The survey also found that in successful organizations, 68 percent of projects meeting original goals and business intent often used agile project management.

But how does agile apply not just to teams but to organizations as a whole?

When an agile adoption is new, the focus is on training. When teams have been trained, shift your emphasis to fostering a community of agile practice in your organization. As agile matures, the metrics will expand beyond how many people use agile. The metrics will start to verify that agile benefits are beginning to be realized.

These tips can help an organization assess the strengths and deficiencies of its agile teams:

1. Instead of asking about one team’s remaining work at the end of an iteration, look at the amount for unfinished work for all teams in your organization. This can tell you who needs more coaching.

Graph the remaining work for each team every two weeks, for example. Can you see which teams need more help? Can you find the average slope for both successful and unsuccessful iterations? Ideally, we start at 100 percent work planned on day one, reach 50 percent in the middle and have 0 percent left at the end of the iteration.

2. Determine if all of your project teams are adding requirements. This can tell you if you are implementing the letter of agile, but not the intent. Strong agile teams will capture some competitive advantage of timely requirements, but will control scope change to not lose focus.

3. Get a pulse on impediments and retrospective actions for all teams.
This can tell you if teams are implementing continuous improvement and facing risks head on.

Asking these questions at an organizational level may not be natural at first. But when encouraged, it can reveal a new perspective on which teams are actually leveraging agile as they mature on their path to adoption.

What are your thoughts on organizational agility?


The views expressed within the PMI Voices on Project Management blog are contributed from external sources and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of PMI.

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