How agile are you?  Can you measure your agility?

My discussions over the past week, about who is and who isn’t agile, started me wondering: if you want to improve your agility, you need to be able to measure it.  This idea is simple and repeatable.  It is used in most "continuous improvement" processes. 

I created a simple model for measuring the agility of a software development process.  I call it the Simple Lifecycle Agility Maturity Model (SLAMM).  It is a single excel spreadsheet (Office 97-2003 compatible, virus free), complete with instructions, measurements, and a chart you can use or share.  You can find it here.

Using this model, the team follows a simple process:

  1. Write a simple story that describes the process you followed.  Examples are included in the spreadsheet.
  2. Rate your process on 12 criteria based on the Agile Alliance principles
  3. Enter weights and view results
  4. Create a list of steps to address deficiencies.  Follow the normal agile process to estimate these steps and add to the backlog.

I’d like to share this model with the community.  Please take a look.  If you like it, use it.  Completely open source.

The weights came from careful reading of the principles on the Agile Alliance site (with a dash of my own experience).  I invite the community to discuss the weights and create a consensus to change them if you’d like.  Note that the biggest benefit of models like this is the ability to compare the agility of processes in DIFFERENT COMPANIES or organizations, so we need to stick to a single set of weights in order to have a standard for comparison.

I hope this is the positive outcome of the blog flurry of late. 

<3-30-2009: Link to SLAMM spreadsheet updated after CodePlex dropped the SLAMM project. >

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

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