Big ideas are dangerous. Something worked somewhere some when but it will not work everywhere and always. Teams and companies are likely to pick some agile practices while they disregard others. Keep reading for a list of the most agile sectors and the most common agile practices.
Questions about agile practices
When a team selects agile practices, they might ask these questions:
- Which are the top agile practices?
- Which top agile practices are most important?
- Which top agile practices are most used?
The most important agile practices
I have tried to locate a comprehensive list of agile software development practices but I have come to doubt that there is such a list. I’ve had more luck with finding out which the most important practices are. Not from a an effectiveness viewpoint but from a “face validity” viewpoint [bibcite key=”citeulike:12799124″]. I have previously published a list of the top twenty agile practices that you need to use to be seen as being agile.
The most commonly used agile practices
Which agile practices are most used then? I’ve previously written about a study of the most common agile practices used in outsourcing and offshoring. Now, there is a new study that looks at the most used agile practices based on a systematic literature review of empirical research studies. [bibcite key=”citeulike:13459327″] Does that sound complicated and indirect? Yes, it does and it is. There should probably be more empirical studies and fewer compilations of empirical studies. Let’s look at their most important findings!
Agile practices by sector
This chart shows the number of agile practices used, by sector. Maximum is 18.
It’s not surprising to see that Telecommunications sector is at the top of the list for using agile practices. In my experience, both operators and manufacturers have adopted agile as part of their DNA. It is a bit more surprising to see that Finance & Insurance are in second place while Media and Internet lag behind. But perhaps it is not so strange after all considering that the financial sector is in a stage of rapid evolution as a result of new regulations and new products and challenges, not least from e-commerce.
Top agile practices
So which are the top agile practices according to Diebold and Dahlem? They list eighteen top agile practices. [bibcite key=”citeulike:13459327″] The numbers in parenthesis refer to the face validity rankings from Laurie Williams of top agile practices.
- Time boxing (17)
- Planning meeting (13)
- Learning loop (4)
- Specification (1)
- Daily discussion (17)
- Product vision
- Outcome review (4)
- Continuous specification analysis (8)
- Continuous integration/deployment (1)
- Progress monitoring (8)
- Delivering frequent releases (4)
- Validation practice (4)
- Common knowledge (13)
- Customer involvement
- Refactoring (13)
- Small cross-functional teams (8)
- Unattached communicative teams (8)
- Quality check (1)
Top agile practices – used versus desiredThere is a big difference between the two rankings. Parts of this is because different nomenclature was used by the authors. Parts of the difference is in the nature of the comparison made. Diebold and Dahlem list what people actually do while Williams lists what people think they should do. Look at the first 5 items in the “actual” list. They are mostly meetings and other practices which are easy to implement. The items in the desired list are much harder to do.
We do know that implementing the right agile practices is a necessary requirement for success. It is not sufficient. We also need to implement a culture of respect for employees, customers and suppliers.
- Haitian vodou altar: Calvin Hennick, for WBUR Boston via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 3.0
- Plan do check act: Karn G. Bulsuk via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0