Enterprise Agile: ‘Water – Agile – Fall’ Makes a Splash in New Forrester Report

Tony TimbolIt's safe to say that for Agile practitioners who are working with clients, the recent findings about enterprise Agile in Forrester's "The 2015 State of Agile Development Report” are not all that surprising. For Agile purists the findings may seem discouraging, but in my view, the report shows that Agile’s benefits are so clear, that it is driving change regardless of barriers to adoption.

This quote about enterprise teams struck me specifically, "The teams know how to integrate Agile development with waterfall practices in an overall enterprise governance framework. When done well, Forrester calls this Water-Agile-Fall. 'Done well' means upfront planning and an understanding of very high-level product requirements (water), then sprints kick off with further user stories of refinement, design, development, testing, and integration (Agile), and, lastly, release packaging and deployment (fall).”

The words "upfront planning" and "high-level product requirements" indicate that enterprises are trying to fit Agile into existing organizational lines of command-and-control, as opposed to decentralizing decision making. Change is hard - these types of allowances are expected.

This chart from the report underscores the challenges organizations are facing in full Agile adoption:

Forrester State of Agile 

What's the big takeaway here? Do not underestimate the challenge in moving from a functional line-of-business model to a product/value stream structure, which aligns better with Agile and lean software engineering. This transition brings many organizational, personnel, and financial issues to the forefront that are not so easily addressed.

Even as solid as the SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) approach is to scaling Agile, enterprises should move deliberately and carefully and understand that scaling is less about technique and more about effective change management.

You can download a copy of the report here.

Tony Timbol
VP of Business Development & SAFe Program Consultant


Written by Tony Timbol at 05:00
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connect2hcb said...
Excellent post on the Waterfall vs Agile debate. Here are some more thoughts on "Is Agile Really Better than Waterfall?", a commonly asked question of this debate - http://business-process-improvement-blog.blogspot.in/2011/02/is-agile-really-better-than-waterfall.html
January 11, 2016 07:44


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