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Measures of Success in an Agile Organization

Successful product / project delivery requires a framework and processes that embrace new and responsive ways of completing work and driving collaboration in order for the organization to thrive in this fast-paced world. For many organizations, an Agile transformation decision is driven by high-level objectives such as, increased efficiency, quick implementation to gain faster return on investment, or building the right / quality products to satisfy customers. One of the most common challenges in these Agile organizations is the pressure to follow legacy measures and metrics to determine if new processes are achieving the desired results. Traditional metrics (e.g. fixed scope) that evaluate progress by meeting predetermined requirements and scheduled delivery, regardless of potentially evolving customer needs, fall short in effectively assessing the organization’s delivery performance against its set objectives. In order to track and measure if the organization is making progress, redefining what is considered “success” against the new organizational values and objectives becomes an important step. Implementing new success factors and metrics that support Agile values and the customer need become the cornerstones of defining successful delivery. So how can an organization that has envisioned Agile benefits and set desired outcomes measure success against the same?

Measuring Business Value

Below are some examples of measures and metrics that could be used to facilitate and track approaches to evaluate Agile success in light of organizational values.

Business Value Example Metrics Measurement Examples
Customers / stakeholders engagement Projects implemented have approaches to ENGAGE customers Focus groups, User persona development sessions, Wireframing and sprint demo, feedback, etc.
User representation throughout the delivery process Projects have approaches implemented to ASSESS customer satisfaction % of projects that have committed Product Owners Delivery meets agreed-upon high priority items / success criteria
Continuous prioritization and communication of user needs and responsiveness to change Customer satisfaction against product / service delivered increased by % Number of feedback loops, ongoing communication,

Measuring Improved Efficiency / Productivity

One of the primary benefits of adopting Agile frameworks is enhanced process improvement through a greater emphasis on continuous communication, collaboration, transparency and shared responsibilities. The result is improved productivity, efficiency, and increased performance which can be measured by tracking progress made against the reduced amount of time it takes for a product / service to reach the market in addition to the improvement in quality of delivery. Organizations can eliminate duplicative handoffs across cross-functional roles and systems, align budgeting and investment funding based on performance, and significantly reduce waste and time-to-market for a given product / project or service. Below are examples of relevant metrics that will enable to track progress against this Agile milestone:

Organizational Productivity Metrics Measurement Examples
Eliminating waste Promotes efficiency and smart spending by utilizing shared platforms and organizational standard to avoid redundancy and minimize waste # of applicable projects utilizing the Standards request process or assessment of existing systems against enterprise needs and scalability
Efficiency in spend Resource allocation and project approaches utilize Agile delivery models and templates % of Agile Contract templates
Expediting quality and continuous delivery Engineering and development practices utilize the DevSecOps delivery models and tools Capture # of applicable processes / workflows identified vs. actually automated Survey assessment of development environment setup and access to development team % of reported defects against a system/product
Resources allocated to high priority and business value items only Encourage development of strategic and high-priority work (e.g. build based on need, ensure just-in-time development to effectively respond to user needs) Projects approval time report for kick-off vs. actual work begin date % or number of used items captured via customer survey, Web analytics, # of Stories – Planned vs. Stories – Actual

Additionally, the organization can utilize these measurement examples to create a clear picture of how these new success measures are performing in the current state in order to establish a baseline that will enable it to draw an accurate before-and-after comparison.

Summary

While traditional project management intends to track the exact delivery of upfront specifications as efficiency and direct project success, Agile frameworks respond to non-traditional success factors such as speed and delivering a product that maximizes business value. The spending and return in Agile however, can not be achieved by minimizing change to requirements and measuring success by following and delivering set specifications to a T. In an Agile organization, success is better realized through fast delivery of solutions that engage the business to incorporate evolving requirements that meet the business needs as quickly as possible. Applying the right balance of investment and return expectation through delivering the right / quality result within the allowable risk factors is what will ultimately lead to optimal returns and project / product success.


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