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Title: Agile Succes Factors : a qualitative study about what makes agile projects successful
Authors : Meier, Andreas
Kropp, Martin
Extent : 27
Publisher / Ed. Institution : Swiss Agile Research Network
Publisher / Ed. Institution: Brugg-Windisch
Issue Date: May-2015
License (according to publishing contract) : Not specified
Language : English
Subjects : Agile; Software development
Subject (DDC) : 005: Computer programming, programs and data
Abstract: Various studies show great improvements in software projects when agile software development is applied. However, there are still remaining problems and there are also reports about project failures in the agile community. This raises the question of what factors distinguish successful agile software projects and teams from less successful ones? The authors of the Swiss Agile Study wanted to shed some light on these questions. We conducted a qualitative interview study with eight successful agile IT companies. We asked them about the essential success factors in their agile projects. The findings are divided into three different categories: Engineering practices, management practices and the values, or culture, they live. On the engineering level it was found that these companies apply many technical practices in a very disciplined way, with a strong emphasis on quality assuring prac- tices like unit testing, continuous integration and automation, and clean coding. On the management level it was pointed out that clear requirements, which are verified and validated in very close collaboration with the customer, are essential. The same was true for very close communication within the team. The third aspect that was found, was that in each successful team there was a kind of Agile Champion who motivated and inspired the team to use agility. On the value level we found that successful agile teams live a culture of openness and transparency. They establish an agile culture at least on the team and organizational level (we found only one company who had established the agile method in the whole company). Third, they live an attitude of craftsmanship, being proud of their work and striving for high quality work. Finally we noticed, that while putting high emphasize on the above practices, mature agile teams start adapting these practices and the agile process to their needs, when they notice that some of the practices do not work or that following the recipe is insufficient. A constant probing, sensing and appropriate responding was observed. This is the typical pattern for moving forward in complex adaptive systems. Applying a sense-making methodology like the Cynefin framework, theoretically explains the observations in the present study. Companies should therefore be aware, that software projects are often located in the complex domain, i.e. can be modeled as complex adaptive systems. These kinds of problems rather require emergent practices instead of good or best practices and an understanding of the implications of complexity theory is of merit.
Departement: School of Engineering
Organisational Unit: Institute of Applied Information Technology (InIT)
Publication type: Working Paper – Expertise – Study
DOI : 10.21256/zhaw-3844
ISSN: 2296-2476
Published as part of the ZHAW project : Swiss Agile Study 2014
Appears in Collections:Publikationen School of Engineering

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