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Introduction of Agile Practices: Strategies and Impacts
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Computing, Department of Software Engineering.
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: Software development organizations frequently face changes that require them to be flexible. The principles and practices of Agile software are often associated with improving software organizations’ flexibility. However, introducing Agile practices have its benefits and limitations. To amplify benefits and alleviate challenges, Agile adoption guidelines are being proposed to provide strategies for introducing Agile practices. One instance of such guidelines is known as Agile Maturity Models (AMMs). AMMs typically suggest that Agile practices are introduced in certain orders. However, AMMs provide contradictory strategies. Thus it is not known whether one strategy to introduce Agile practices is better than others.

Objective: The objective of this thesis is to gather and examine the evidence on the different strategies of introducing Agile practices, particularly on the order of introduction as suggested in the AMMs. The thesis seeks if one order for introducing Agile practices is better than others.

Method: Combination of empirical studies were used in this thesis. The data collection was done through a survey and semi-structured interviews. This involved analyzing the introduction of Agile practices over time, i.e. the start and/or end of Agile practices. A qualitative method like qualitative coding was used to analyze data obtained from the interviews. Different quantitative methods like inferential statistics and social network analysis were also used. Literature studies were also conducted to provide background and support for the empirical studies.

Results: The examination of the evidence indicates that there is not one strategy to introduce Agile practices that would yield better results than others. The lack of conclusive evidence could be caused by the lack of consideration on reporting the context of empirical studies, particularly on the baseline situation, i.e. situation prior to Agile introduction. A checklist is proposed to capture a baseline contextual information focusing on internal organizational aspects of a software organization: the constellation of team members’ skills and experience, management principles, existing practices and systems characteristics of the software under development. The checklist was validated  by seven experts in academia. The experts who participated in the validation perceived the checklist to be useful and relevant to research.

Conclusion:  The studies presented in this thesis can be a useful input for researchers who are conducting an empirical study in Agile software development. The checklist proposed in this thesis could be used to help researchers to improve their research design when evaluating the extent of improvements from introducing Agile practices. If researchers use the checklist, consistency across empirical studies can be improved. Consistency in reporting empirical studies is desired for comparing and aggregating evidence. In turn, this will help practitioners to make a fair assessment whether research results are relevant to their contexts and to what extent the results are helpful for them.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2018.
Series
Blekinge Institute of Technology Doctoral Dissertation Series, ISSN 1653-2090 ; 6
National Category
Computer Systems
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-15966ISBN: 978-91-7295-352-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-15966DiVA, id: diva2:1191756
Public defence
2018-06-05, J1650, Campus Gräsvik, Karlskrona, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-03-20 Created: 2018-03-20 Last updated: 2018-05-30Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. An Analysis of Change Scenarios of an IT Organization for Flexibility Building
Open this publication in new window or tab >>An Analysis of Change Scenarios of an IT Organization for Flexibility Building
2015 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Flexibility is important for software organizations to cope with changes demanded in the business environment. So far, flexibility has been extensively studied from a software product and software development process point of view. However, there is little work on how to build flexibility at the level of the whole software organization. Thus, there is no clear understanding of how to effectively improve the ability of an organization to respond to changes in a timely fashion and with little effort. This paper presents the results of a grounded theory study on how flexibility is built and improved in an IT organization and provides a holistic and explanatory view of how this is achieved. Implications for research and practices are also provided.

Keywords
Flexibility, Software Organization, Grounded Theory
National Category
Computer Systems Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-11109 (URN)
Conference
23rd European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS 2015), Münster, Germany
Available from: 2015-12-01 Created: 2015-12-01 Last updated: 2018-05-28Bibliographically approved
2. Literature Review of Flexibility Attributes: A Flexibility Framework for Software Developing Organization
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Literature Review of Flexibility Attributes: A Flexibility Framework for Software Developing Organization
2018 (English)In: Journal of Software: Evolution and Process, ISSN 2047-7473, E-ISSN 2047-7481Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2018
National Category
Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-15963 (URN)10.1002/smr.1937 (DOI)
Available from: 2018-03-20 Created: 2018-03-20 Last updated: 2018-05-28Bibliographically approved
3. The impacts of agile and lean practices on project constraints: A tertiary study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The impacts of agile and lean practices on project constraints: A tertiary study
2016 (English)In: Journal of Systems and Software, ISSN 0164-1212, E-ISSN 1873-1228, Vol. 119, p. 162-183Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The growing interest in Agile and Lean software development is reflected in the increasing number of secondary studies on the benefits and limitations of Agile and Lean processes and practices. The aim of this tertiary study is to consolidate empirical evidence regarding Agile and Lean practices and their respective impacts on project constraints as defined in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK): scope, quality, schedule, budget, resources, communication, and risk. In this tertiary study, 13 secondary studies were included for detailed analysis. Given the heterogeneity of the data, we were unable to perform a rigorous synthesis. Instead, we mapped the identified Agile and Lean practices, and their impacts on the project constraints described in PMBOK. From 13 secondary studies, we identified 13 Agile and Lean practices. Test-Driven Development (TDD) is studied in ten secondary studies, meanwhile other practices are studied in only one or two secondary studies. This tertiary study provides a consolidated view of the impacts of Agile and Lean practices. The result of this tertiary study indicates that TDD has a positive impact on external quality. However, due to insufficient data or contradictory results, we were unable to make inferences on other Agile and Lean practices. Implications for research and practice are further discussed in the paper. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2016
Keywords
Tertiary study, Agile software development, Lean software development, Project constraints
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-13050 (URN)10.1016/j.jss.2016.06.043 (DOI)000381232600011 ()
Available from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30 Last updated: 2018-05-28Bibliographically approved
4. Usage, Retention, and Abandonment of Agile Practices
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Usage, Retention, and Abandonment of Agile Practices
2018 (English)In: e-Informatica Software Engineering Journal, ISSN 1897-7979, E-ISSN 2084-4840, Vol. 3, no 1Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-16236 (URN)
Note

Background: A number of Agile maturity models (AMMs) have been proposed to guide software organizations in their adoption of Agile practices. Typically the AMMs suggest that higher maturity levels are reached by gradually adding more practices. However, recent research indicates that certain Agile practices, like test-driven development and continuous integration are being abandoned. Little is known on the rationales for abandoning Agile practices. Aim: We aim to identify which Agile practices are abandoned in industry, as well as the reasons for abandoning them. Method: We conducted a web survey with 51 respondents and interviews with 11 industry practitioners with experience in Agile adoption to investigate why Agile practices are abandoned. Results: Of the 17 Agile practices that were included in the survey, all have been abandoned at some point. Nevertheless, respondents who retained all practices as well as those who abandoned one or more practices, perceived their overall adoption of Agile practices as successful. Conclusion: Going against the suggestions of the AMMs, i.e. abandoning Agile one or more practices, could still lead to successful outcomes. This indicates that introducing Agile practices gradually in a certain sequence, as the AMMs suggest, may not always be suitable in different contexts.

Available from: 2018-05-30 Created: 2018-05-30 Last updated: 2018-08-15Bibliographically approved
5. Strategies to Introduce Agile Practices: Comparing Agile Maturity Models with Practitioners’Experience
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Strategies to Introduce Agile Practices: Comparing Agile Maturity Models with Practitioners’Experience
(English)In: Journal of Empirical Software Engineering, ISSN 1382-3256, E-ISSN 1573-7616Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Context: Agile maturity models (AMMs) have been proposed to provide guidance for adopting Agile practices. Evaluations of AMMs indicatethat they might not be suitable for industry use. One issue is that AMMs have mainly been evaluated against pre-defined sets of criteria, instead of industry practice. Objectives: The objectives of this study are to: (1) compare current AMMs regarding their guidance for Agile adoption, (2) investigate the strategies for Agile adoption used by practitioners, and (3) investigate similarities and differences between (1) and (2). Methods: We conducted a literature survey that included grey literature to identify strategies proposed by the AMMs. We also conducted a survey and 11 interviews to identify the strategies used by practitioners to introduce Agile practices. This study combines quantitative and qualitative analysis. Results: From the literature survey we found 26 AMMs, whereof 12 provide explicit mappings of Agile practices to maturity levels. These mappings showed little agreement in when practices should be introduced. Based on 40 survey responses we identified three high-level strategies for introducing Agile practices: big-bang, incremental, and complex strategies. The survey andinterviews revealed that the guidance suggested by AMMs are not aligned well with industry practice and that Agile practices might already be in place before an organization starts a transition to Agile. Conclusion: In their current form, AMMs do not provide sufficient information to guide Agile adoption in industry. Our results suggest that there might be no universal strategy for Agile adoption that works better than others.

National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-16237 (URN)
Available from: 2018-05-30 Created: 2018-05-30 Last updated: 2018-08-24Bibliographically approved
6. A Preliminary Checklist for Capturing Baseline Situations in Studying the Impacts of Agile Practices Introduction
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Preliminary Checklist for Capturing Baseline Situations in Studying the Impacts of Agile Practices Introduction
2018 (English)In: Proceedings - International Conference on Software Engineering, IEEE Computer Society, 2018, p. 25-28Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

To assess the benefits of introducing Agile practices, it is important to get a clear understanding of the baseline situation, i.e. the situation before their introduction. Without a clear baseline, we cannot properly assess the extent of impacts, both positive and negative, of introducing Agile practices. This paper provides a preliminary guideline to help researchers in capturing and reporting baseline situations. The guideline has been developed through the study of literature and interviews with industry practitioners, and validated by experts in academia.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IEEE Computer Society, 2018
Series
Proceedings - International Conference on Software Engineering, ISSN 0270-5257
Keywords
Agile practices, checklist, baseline situation
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-16114 (URN)10.1145/3193965.3193969 (DOI)9781450357364 (ISBN)
Conference
International Workshop Series on Conducting Empirical Studies in Industry (CESI’18), Gothenburg
Available from: 2018-04-24 Created: 2018-04-24 Last updated: 2018-08-21Bibliographically approved

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Nurdiani, Indira

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