Savvy practitioners know that what gets measured gets managed. But when attempting to quantify the agility of their organizations, agile assessment template frameworks tend to focus on organizational maturity. The one we’re offering here for free is quite different.
Please make no mistake: Agile maturity assessments have their place. They’re instrumental to determine organizational readiness, leadership buy-in, and a host of other factors that can and do derail maximum software velocity. But what about those organizations that have already committed to the agile practice? How should they measure the progress of their efforts so that they can determine where their agility is being hindered? If that sounds like you, keep reading.
As we’ve written before, agile adoption is a necessary component to maximizing software velocity. But as anyone knows, it’s the discipline that surrounds the process that determines how successful your teams will ultimately be. For example, the decision to do sprint planning matters, but your success will be determined by your commitment to follow the rules of sprint planning day in and day out.
Moreover, at Ascendle, we’ve found other factors beyond processes that inhibit velocity. Surrounding the practice of agile are the people and tools that your organization has in place. Because of this, we believe that the best agile assessment template goes far beyond the maturity of your organization.
At Ascendle, we believe that maximum software velocity is only achieved when your people, processes, and tools have been optimized for peak performance. To that end, our software team assessment explores each of these components in great detail. (Our template has more than 120 questions to answer!) We begin by examining the roles in your organization; are they explicit, and are the people within these roles adhering to the tenets of agile. For example, if you have a Product Owner playing the part of the ScrumMaster, you’ve found an area of improvement among your people. Similarly, if your ScrumMaster doesn’t attend ceremonies, it’s not your organization’s process that’s less than ideal; it’s the person’s performance within that role.
Understanding the people within your organization and how well they’re behaving within the framework is key to success. In fact, researchers that have studied the role of people, processes, and tools within companies frequently recommend that personnel issues are given the highest priority. The failure to do so means that will blunt efforts to improve the processes and tools.
If the right people are following the right processes, your organization is almost certainly outperforming many of your peers. But maximum velocity only occurs when you also have the right tools in place. These tools are the third critical component for our software team assessment analysis.
Agile relies upon frequent code releases and consistent incremental upgrades to the software, unlike traditional waterfall development. This means, however, that automated systems must be in place that support such rapid releases. Automated testing and continuous deployment are vital factors in shipping software more frequently, as is the proper use of work visualization tools like JIRA. These tools can be considered the “grease on the rails” of an agile organization, as they genuinely allow companies to move at the swiftest possible rate.
The free agile assessment template offered in this blog post is the same one we use to evaluate our clients’ people, processes, and tools. Like all templates, you might need to customize it for your use, and we’d encourage you to do so. As you can imagine, there are a variety of opinions as to the validity of self-assessments rather than third-party assessments.
In practice, we’ve found that the most accurate assessments (particularly of tools) come when we’re embedded within our client teams. But regardless, this agile assessment template is the first step toward providing you with a better view of the effectiveness of the people, processes, and tools within your organization.