Measuring Agile through smiles and discussions

Measuring Agile through smiles and discussions

Corporates are no more discussing benefits of Agile over antique Waterfall models and contemplating if they should go Agile. Industries in diverse sectors have adopted Agile for increased efficiency, better time to market, decreased costs, and increased revenue for more than a decade. However, most companies understand Agile only as daily scrum meetings, smaller teams, etc. They miss that Agile is all about flat hierarchy and employee empowerment, without which Agile will lose its true meaning.

Read on to find about important metrics that we at coMakeIT use to measure agility after a couple of months of commencing the product development, and sometimes periodically too.

We are all learners.

At times like these when offices have steeped into our homes it is natural to think about applying philosophies in a domestic system to our work at office. Not just our work, our kid’s classes have moved online. According to some reports kids who spent less time attending classes and attended interactive ones learnt in bite sized pieces and almost the same amount as kids who attended classes for whole school hours. They showed consistent interest without a burnout. In art classes students performed better and worked consistently when they didn’t compare their results with others and when they competed only with their past efforts and results.

This is new to us since we were asked to compete with each other in our schools. We needed a mindset change to fit into non-competitive Agile and enjoy it’s benefits. Though unwittingly, some of us carry the same old school principles of changing deadlines as per customers demands, following up and intruding in a team’s work etc. These work against the spirit of Agile and take away benefits of the methodology.

All the above discussed facets, working on bite sized pieces, interacting with the team, competing with yourself are all the characteristics of going Agile. I imagine our kids fitting better in an Agile system when they grow up. You might wonder, will Agile stay till then? Agile might or might not stay, it may change and have a new name. But the philosophy behind it – team empowerment, accountability, non-hierarchical management – I’m sure will be relevant even after decades. Because, this is all about Innovation.

How does one measure the benefits of going Agile?

  • How can you quantify the value of the results we achieve and the work you do?
  • How can you measure gains such as customer and employee happiness?
  • Can you measure the value of direct effects, such as earlier product delivery, from indirect effects, such as customer happiness?
  • How much of an increase in revenue does a company gain from going Agile and at what cost?

The answer to all the above questions, summed up as ROI (Return On Investment) on Agile, depends on why you adopted Agile. After going Agile, discounting the training costs the company does see an increase in revenue. It is usually brought by the intangible outcomes of going Agile like Increased team happiness, Lower cost of quality, Higher Customer Satisfaction, Higher Employee Productivity.

Here are some parameters to consider while measuring Agile Benefits.

  1. Velocity: If the team develops features of a product faster, then it means they’re giving better output at the same cost. This metric can be measured per story point delivered and gives you a direct view of how the Agile transformation is impacting your bottom line or ROI.
  2. Happiness Index: Like the country Bhutan that measures Gross National Happiness of its people, it’s important to check how happy the employees are in the work they do. Of course, it is their job and happiness is elusive. They cannot be happy every day and every moment. Probably measure their unhappiness index then. If they’re not overburdened or don’t have any reasons to be unhappy then they are happy enough to translate their work to customers happiness. Happiness is the state of creative teams, and unhappiness of command-and-control groups.
  3. Net Promotor Score: At the end of the day, what matters is whether customers will recommend your company’s products or services. Though a difficult metric to game, it shows clearly how much our customer’s value us.
  4. Cost per Call: If you have a consumer facing product or any product that has a helpdesk, you should be lowering your cost per call and reducing the number of calls to your helpdesk because by going Agile, you should be able to make better and higher quality software with fewer defects, better usability, that results in fewer problems to report.
  5. Team connectivity: Many didn’t consider this point prior to the pandemic. But now, when everyone is working from home how close the team members are to each other and how effectively is technology helping connect with each other is as important a metric as any of the above ones.
  6. How open is everyone to questions?: According to Plato, one of Socrates’ students, Socrates believed that “the disciplined practice of thoughtful questioning enables the scholar/student to examine ideas and be able to determine the validity of those ideas”. If the team still receives or expects to receive orders or is uncomfortable when posed with a question or to question, they need to go through learning Agile principles again. No doubt Socrates would’ve loved Agile!
Understands AgileNot Agile or Doesn’t understand agile
TeamEmpowered, creative, cross functionalHas a Lead
Role based
Scrum MasterLeads to answers through
Socratic questioning
Orders
CustomerLists out priority
functionalities
Pushes for features irrespective
of the backlog
EveryoneCompetes with themselves,
asks for feedback, analyses it,
incorporates changes feels connected to the team,
emotionally invested in work
Competes with each other


Doesn’t pay attention to
communication or lack of it.

Conclusion:

Agile is beyond scrum calls and daily standup meetings in glass walled rooms sprinkled with fluorescent post-it notes. The philosophy of Agile, that is, empowered teams, flat hierarchies, closely following market realities, ensuring clear customer communications are at the heart of being Agile without which the essential methodology would become hollow and will not give the returns we expect. The Agile ROI methods discussed in this blog were widely applied across all the product development teams at coMakeIT. To learn more about Agile ROI and to implement Agile in your projects please contact us by visiting www.comakeit.com.

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      Divya Prathima

      Divya Prathima

      The author was a java Developer at coMakeIT before turning into a stay-at-home-mom. She slowed down to make art, tell stories, read books on fiction, philosophy, science, art-history, write about science, parenting, and observe technology trends. She loves to write and aspires to write simple and understandable articles someday like Yuval Noah Harari. We are very happy to have her back at coMakeIT and contribute to our relevant and thought provoking content.

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