Agile transformation: 5 ways to measure progress

Is your organization tapping the full business benefits of Agile? Consider these tactics to evaluate the success of your strategy
91 readers like this.

Among the many hot project management strategies these days, Agile may be the most widely implemented: Agile techniques like daily stand-ups, scrums, and sprint planning are now ubiquitous in offices and Zoom calls alike. Rather than building towards a singular, make-or-break product release or campaign, Agile project management focuses on small, incremental achievements to encourage forward movement and avoid bottlenecks.

Leaders often wonder whether adoption of Agile methodologies is working for their organizations. How can they determine whether or not it’s a success? While there are ways to quantify progress – particularly with regard to speed and revenue – not every change can be put into data and figures.

5 success metrics for Agile transformation

Here are five ways to assess Agile transformation progress:

1. Changes to culture

In Agile workplaces, silos are broken down in favor of collaboration, communication, and transparency. To determine how well this is happening in your organization, assess the structures being put in place across projects. The presence of product owners in each of your scrum teams is a good starting point. A regular conversation with the product owners and scrum leaders can help you assess if the hierarchies are breaking down in favor of a more synergistic approach.

Consider joining a few standup calls as an observer to get a first-hand understanding of how the development of a specific feature or assignment is moving between product owners, development teams, and quality assurance owners.

[ Want more advice on agile adoption? Read Agile strategy: 3 hard truths. ]

A new business strategy can also be evaluated in terms of employee buy-in. If team members believe in the value and importance of Agile transformation, they will work harder to ensure its success. But if a critical mass of employees is skeptical about the change, they will make it harder to see a positive result.

2. Improvements to efficiency and speed

With Agile or DevOps, efficiency and speed are the name of the game. No two enterprises or even programs should measure their speed or performance in the same way. But implementing some metrics and capturing the right data elements will help you track improvements in speed and efficacy over a period of time.

Consider tracking release time for new fixes or features, mean time to resolution on anomalies and errors, number of story points being delivered per sprint cycle performance of teams against their own plans, and whether teams are able to achieve more within the same timeframe and budget than they did before adopting Agile practices. The answers to these questions will help you and your teams see how far you’ve come on your Agile journey and where there’s still room to grow.

3. Focus on customer-centricity

Agile management is characterized by its commitment to customer-centricity. Accordingly, it’s essential to carefully track metrics that reflect the customer experience.

[ Related read: Agile adoption: 6 strategic steps for IT leaders. ]

Encourage your teams to set goals for improving the customer experience. Make your process of tracking customer satisfaction/Net Promoter Score known to everyone and measure improvements against your goals. Agile teams should look beyond revenue and sales numbers to better understand the attitudes and opinions of their most important audience.

4. Increased innovation and creativity

After a few months of Agile management, are your meetings resulting in fresh, creative approaches to longstanding challenges?

When organizations let go of rigid hierarchies and encourage collaboration, the result should be an infusion of new energy and ideas. After a few months of Agile management, are your meetings resulting in fresh, creative approaches to longstanding challenges? Are your teams revisiting existing processes and coming up with new ways to streamline their everyday tasks?

By embracing communication and transparency, employees who may previously have felt stifled by hierarchy should feel free to pitch new ideas. A creative team is a sign that the Agile methodology is working.

5. Value to the business

At the end of the day, business success is measured in dollars and cents. Agile transformation should have the long-term impact of accelerating product development, increasing customer satisfaction, and yes, improving the company’s bottom line.

Demonstrating the tangible benefit that Agile processes have on company revenues can help prove the value of the transformation, in some cases encouraging other groups within the business to pursue a similar change. While C-suite executives will be happy to know that their teams are enjoying an improved company culture, nothing will speak louder than a healthy balance sheet.

Sustained progress is achieved by implementing changes, measuring their performance, and making adjustments based on those measurements. A robust metrics program is essential to ensure that businesses maximize the return on their Agile transformations. From qualitative evaluations to detailed figures, careful measurement can make the difference between a successful initiative and failure to launch.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Vikas is part of the executive leadership team at Persistent reporting to the CEO. He has partnered with CXOs across the globe to deliver several transformational programs leveraging data, analytics, and digital technologies. At Persistent, his role is to bring digital capabilities together to the benefit of our clients.