If you had some doubt about SCRUM and Agile development getting real in the software development world, here is an interesting chart showing the evolution of agile and SCRUM related job for the past 4 years. A picture is worth a thousand words and I guess this one clearly demonstrate a clear growing trend. We’re part of that trend as my software organization is transitioning to SCRUM. I’m taking my green pill everyday !
One of the reason for this growing trend? The state of the economy.
This is a mess out there, with a lot of people losing job as companies are trying to cut cost in order to keep their business afloat. But the best way to beat the downturn is to try to stay innovative and be ahead of your competition. In effect, try to deliver more with less. You better have a lean and effective process which help you achieve your full potential. Development process such as waterfall, while effective in some situation, is not fit for what we’re dealing with here. Agile development allows you to deliver value faster to your customers and adapt quicker to ever changing requirement. By reducing the development cycle you will bring forward cashflow: Some software are built to generate sales, either by selling this software or by facilitating the sale of a service. If the software is delivered sooner, the sale can happen sooner.
It also brings people together as interaction and communication are key in an agile environment. During difficult time, you need to bring your people together if you want to get their full potential and keep them motivated in such a crisis.
A downturn is an opportunity to rethink how the company works as there is less to loose than in a booming economy. This change has a price but Agile has never required expensive tools to be implemented and there is a lot of open source solution to help with cost. While you can implement an agile process by yourself (there is a lot of material available to get you started), it will be much smoother if you can afford training and the help from a consultant who will guide you though the first few weeks or months.
If you’re part of a large company, this move to an agile and leaner process has to happen across organization, not only in the software development department. There is no point of increasing velocity if supporting organization can’t keep up with the pace. IT needs to adapt and find innovative way to help, faster. Not only helping your software organization by providing flexible and scalable hardware environment to develop and test, but also bringing options to your customer for them to use our products. I’m a firm believer that cloud computing is one part of the answer and is becoming more and more accepted in the IT world.
Sales, Marketing, Services … They’re all affected by the financial crisis and have a big role to play to if you want to bring value faster to your customers. They need to be part of the agile transition. They’re the stakeholders of the software organization and should be part of the process. They also need to take a look at their own process, take the fat out of it and keep the best part.
I see this economic crisis as an opportunity for all company to step back and take a good look at their process and understand what they could do to make it more efficient, how to have people work better together, how to bring all key departments up to speed so they can work together in the same direction. Going back to the chart, we can see that software development organization are starting the transition to a more agile process. Will other organization follow?