, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 599-624

Evaluating the impact of an agile transformation: a longitudinal case study in a distributed context

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Abstract

Many software-development organizations have recently started to adopt agile practices in order to benefit from the improvements they clearly bring, in terms of production speed and software quality, for example. However, in a large, distributed organization, such as Nokia Siemens Networks, an agile transformation may be a long-term, complex process, and therefore, evaluating the benefits achieved, and measuring the success of the change, can be difficult, especially in the early phases of the transformation. This paper is based on the results of a case study on the impact introducing agile practices actually had in a large, software-development organization, part of Nokia Siemens Networks. The impact of this agile transformation was evaluated in terms of how well it succeeded in achieving the goals set by the management before the transformation started. This longitudinal study included two separate analyses, made at 6 monthly intervals, which measured what agile practices were really in use in the organization, and what effects, if any, were visible in terms of the goals which had been set by the management The 6 monthly analyses included defect data metrics and opinion surveys of the personnel directly involved in the transformation. The study showed two things: firstly, that the introduction of agile practices does have the beneficial effects that one would expect, and secondly, that, using this kind of study, it is not only possible to evaluate the impact that the adoption of agile practices has in a large, established software-development company, but also that the effects are visible at a surprisingly early stage.