At Plandek we get the opportunity to work with a great variety of Agile engineering teams – from very large, distributed enterprises - to start-ups.
All are on a journey towards “Agile engineering excellence” (which means different things to different people). This requires the need to balance the “day job” of delivering quality and value-driving outcomes – with the ongoing objective of continually getting better (continuous improvement).
Agile Continuous Improvement requires a set of metrics against which to measure progress. These metrics need to be balanced and meaningful (i.e. deterministic of improved outcomes). This creates two immediate issues:
• First - Agility metrics (and indeed the concept of measurement) are contentious. What is the ideal “balanced scorecard” of Agility metrics?
• Second – the Agile philosophy is predicated on decentralised, empowered and self-determining teams, which runs counter to the concept of top-down measurement.
Our view is Continuous Improvement (CI) is vital in healthy and maturing Agile environments. Hence metrics to underpin this process are also vital. However, CI should be owned and driven by the teams themselves – so teams become self-improving and where necessary self-healing. Hence CI programmes become SI (Self-Improvement) programmes.
This short paper focuses on how teams can implement a demonstrably effective SI programme even in the fastest moving and most resource constrained Agile environments – so that they remain self-determining; deliver today; and continue to improve at the same time.