A Management Primer: How Agile Development Teams Can Deliver Value

Organizations will overcome challenges in quantifying Agile value by embracing a solution that assesses, benchmarks and course corrects Agile development teams.

Agile development is challenging to manage and measure, especially when compared with traditional development models like Waterfall.  

Management is often uncertain when functionality will be delivered and at what cost, whether it delivers required quality, and with what inherent risks. Due to its inherent nature of using Story Points to assess progress, Agile value is challenging to quantify. 

If something is difficult to measure, it is hard to evaluate, manage and ensure value delivery. Through an example, this blog sets out to show that it’s possible to counter these challenges, and restore balance between the relationship of Agile teams and management. 

Imagine this common scenario. A major client-facing application that will help digitally transform the company is a year into development with production delivery being pushed out every quarter. Sprints are chewing through the backlog, but the backlog keeps re-filling with refactoring and bugs and newly discovered requirements. Turn-over on the team is creating challenges in productivity and quality, and on-boarding new team members takes too long, which impacts overall productivity.  

Management keeps receiving progress planning updates that show a smooth, Agile development machine with sprints and stories paced to deliver, but then the budget keeps increasing and the delivery date shifts to the right. Management is struggling to reconcile the reports versus actual cost, productivity, quality, and deadline progress. They’ve replaced the project manager once, but are frustrated by conflicting messages and are distrustful of quality, timely progress.  

The development team is confused and team members are leaving the project (and the company) due to management pressure to correct a project, where the team feels it is moving through the Agile process effectively. They feel that “management” doesn’t understand how Agile works and its value proposition; coming from Waterfall project management, they believe that management simply doesn’t get Agile.  

The development team also feels they are being hampered by staff turn-over, resulting in lost productivity and institutional memory, and decreased quality. If management would get off their backs and let them work, the project will be delivered effectively.  

Behind management’s interest in seeing the product done and delivered is that they see it as key to their digital transformation, and a competitive and defensive necessity versus their market peers. If Agile is so much better than Waterfall, why are costs, duration, and quality spiraling out of original forecasts? At least with Waterfall, you knew what the milestones were, and could prioritize deliverables. With Agile, it’s all about backlog and Story Points.  

Management eventually lost faith in the development process to deliver the application in the competitive timeframe needed with a minimum viable product and a semblance of cost controls. They feel like they’ve lost grip over a project that has become out of hand with no end in sight. Both groups need a concrete measurable process that allows all parties to objectively and consistently assess the team performance, product health and quality. They need a dependable way to visualize progress (productivity, cost, delivery speed, quality, security, maintainability).  

The company previously subscribed to research from IDC and heard about the IDC Metri Agile Value Management (AVM) solution that assesses, benchmarks and course-corrects Agile development teams. AVM is a systematic, quantitative, comprehensive, data-driven, and repeatable solution, based on ISO standards, and has demonstrated quantifiable value to clients.  

Working with the IDC Metri AVM solutions team, they began the methodical process of breaking down the product development process and product.  

Across multiple sprints, measures of value creation were implemented. Enhanced function point analysis, based on ISO standards, was used to assess progress and efficiency rather than Story Points. Source code analysis was performed to assess code quality and security, to reduce refactoring and the number of CVEs. This analysis not only identified the gaps, but provided specific, tactical recommendations on how to address them. Further, team performance was benchmarked to understand how competitive their team was, versus market peers.  

After six weeks of work, management and team received dashboards and analysis that clearly identified gaps and remediations.  

The engineering dashboards clearly identified poor code and CVEs that allowed the development team to better and more rapidly address quality issues. As they adopted the guidance from the engineering dashboard, the development team found their practices improving. Quality and performance improved due to lower testing efforts attributed to enhanced coding practices. Also, improving practices and identifying better practices reduced team stress, and enabled newly onboarded team members to more rapidly become productive.  

Benchmarking team practices against peers let management identify areas to invest, and realize team improvement. The management dashboard provided managers a way to check the pulse of key project factors and quickly notice, and course-correct negative performance trends. Also, based on the forecasting assessment provided, management realized that one problem was the development team was under-resourced to meet required business delivery milestones, even if performing to peers. So, management made the decision to augment the team with third-party staff, to ensure milestones could be met. 

Both the development team and management needed the same thing – a common, agreed-upon definition of “reality.” They started off with two different frames of reference. For the development team, their frame was backlog, sprints, velocity, and Story Points. For management, it was cost, time, quality, and milestones. The two groups were speaking different languages and couldn’t reconcile. By bringing in AVM, management and the development team now had one frame of reference everyone could agree with, and a complete analysis that brought together technical and business needs. The team had one language from which they could mutually understand development health, and how to address gaps and deliver agile value. 

Interested in more content around delivering agile value? Join us on the Agile Value: How Can You Manage What You Can’t Measure webinar on January 12.

IDC Named Analyst Firm of the Year by the Institute of Influencer and Analyst Relations (IIAR>)

NEEDHAM, Mass., December 3, 2021 – The Institute of Influencer and Analyst Relations (IIAR>), a not-for-profit organization established to raise awareness of analyst relations (AR), has announced that International Data Corporation (IDC) is its Analyst Firm of the Year 2021. This is the second consecutive year that IDC has earned the award, which is one of the highest accolades for the technology market research industry.

The IIAR> Analyst Firm of the Year award is based on a global survey of analyst relations professionals from diverse industries. This year AR professionals from 12 countries nominated and voted on 45 analyst firms, more than 90 industry analysts, and 38 client partners. The firms were evaluated on their content, research coverage, Web site, experience, and value for the money. The evaluation reflected the best practice promoted within the IIAR>: looking at analysts’ perceived sales impact and strategic insights, resonance in the media, and ease of doing business with. The results provided clear insights both on the value AR professionals see from analysts, as well as how they perceive industry analyst firms’ value to them as clients.

“The IIAR> awards recognise professionals, teams and organisations who raise the bar for and help advance the industry standards. These awards are selected by a vote from fellow IIAR> community members,” said Aniruddho Mukherjee, IIAR> Board Member.

In its announcement at a virtual awards ceremony on December 2nd, the IIAR> stated that IDC was recognized for its “regional and industry coverage, breadth of research programs, and overall quality of its insights.” AR professionals indicated that they value IDC’s straightforward, honest, and compelling feedback as well as its product positioning feedback. IDC analysts were characterized as open, collaborative, and friendly while its sales organization was appreciated for being easy to work with.

“We are honored to receive the Analyst Firm of the Year award in recognition of IDC’s ongoing efforts to meet our clients’ needs during a second pandemic year of economic uncertainty and supply chain disruption. In response to this business environment, IDC remains focused on providing the critical resources and guidance organizations need to become more resilient in the face of these and future uncertainties. The ability to adapt to and capitalize on unexpected changes will be crucial to every successful enterprise in the digital economy,” said Crawford Del Prete, president, IDC. “We would like to thank our clients and all the AR professionals who have acknowledged our efforts with this award. Your support is greatly appreciated, and we look forward to continue working with you in 2022 and beyond.”

In addition to winning the Analyst Firm of the Year award, IDC was recognized in several other categories. Analysts Christina Richmond was the second runner up for the IIAR> Analyst of the Year award while Joel Stradling was among the ten finalists for the award. Richmond was recognized as an experienced security services analyst with strong research skills and “deep, deep, deep insight into strategy.” AR professionals valued Stradling for his excellent market insights and open dialog with clients. In addition, IDC’s Ahmad Latif Ali was one of the finalists for the New Analyst of the Year award. Finally, Janice Worsfold and Matt Vinson were among the finalists for the IIAR> Client Partner of the Year award in recognition of their high-quality client support.

More information about the IIAR> 2021 Awards can be found at: https://analystrelations.org/2021/12/02/special-year-special-awards-the-iiar-announces-industry-analysts-and-analyst-relations-of-the-year-awards-2021/

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. With more than 1,100 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology, IT benchmarking and sourcing, and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. IDC’s analysis and insight helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based technology decisions and to achieve their key business objectives. Founded in 1964, IDC is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), the world’s leading tech media, data, and marketing services company. To learn more about IDC, please visit www.idc.com. Follow IDC on Twitter at @IDC and LinkedIn. Subscribe to the IDC Blog for industry news and insights.

About the IIAR>

The Institute of Industry Analyst Relations (IIAR>) is a not-for-profit organization established to raise awareness of analyst relations and the value of industry analysts, promote best practices amongst analyst relations professionals, enhance communication between analyst firms and vendors, and offer opportunities for AR practitioners to network with their industry peers. Follow us on analystrelations.orgLinkedIn and @iiar.