Thursday, November 17, 2011

Proposed Survey

I have finally come up with the survey questions. These have been modeled not only on agile and organizational culture factors. A third dimension has been added related to social culture. This will usually reflect country specific details. However, some questions will be related to cultural aspects outside of work.

I feel that this research will generate results which will help in finding a middle path to successful software development in projects distributed across companies, countries and cultures. The survey questions will be posted soon.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Organizational Culture and its effect on Employee Retention

Fifth paper reviewed: A study of Organizational Culture and its effect on Employee Retention
Author: Nandita Chatterjee R V Institute of Management, Bangalore
Year Published: 2009
Date Reviewed: October 27th, 2011
For a change, this time I reviewed a paper disconnected with Agile methodologies or Software Engineering. This particular paper was published in the ASBM Journal of Management.
The paper deals with employee retention and its relation to organizational culture. From this paper, we see the author quoting four components of organizational culture. The four components are:
·         People – The abilities, needs, values and expectations of the individuals.
·         Process – Behaviors, attitudes and interactions that occur within the organization at the individual, team and inter-team levels.
·         Structures – The formal mechanisms of the organization that are designed to channel behavior toward organizational goals and fulfill the needs of the members.
·         Environment – The external conditions which the organization deals with. This includes customers, technology and social values within which it operates.
Therefore, in order to find a clear correlation between Agile methodologies and Organizational culture, we must map the principles behind Agile and the components of culture. I propose the following map:
A. General Questions about Agile
Customer Satisfaction
Working Software
B. People
Welcome changing requirements
Build projects around motivated individuals
Attention to technical excellence
C. Process
Early and Continuous Development
Business people and developers must work together throughout
Trust them to get the job done
Face-to-face communication
Good Design
Self organizing teams
Team behavior tuned regularly
D. Structures
Deliver working software frequently
Shorter time scale
Sustainable development
E. Environment
Harness change for customer’s advantage
Give them the environment and support they need
Sponsors, developers and users should maintain constant pace
For further information on the principles behind the Agile Manifesto, please visit:

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Impact of Organizational Culture on Agile Method Use

Fourth paper reviewed: The Impact of Organizational Culture on Agile Method Use
Authors: Diane Strode Victoria University OF Wellington, Sid Huff Victoria University of Wellington, Alexei Tretiakov Massey University
Year Published: 2009
Date Reviewed: October 15th, 2011
Many have said that Agile methodologies are highly dependent on the culture of the organization. What is the exact relation between the methodology used and the culture?
This paper inspects this using empirical data from 9 project teams of which 8 are based in New Zealand while 1 is from the United Kingdom. This paper, through a specific formula calculates the exact factor of correlation between this two entities.
The paper successfully concludes that agile is highly culture dependent. It requires a more entrepreneurial, motivated, equal (without hierarchies) and having a high order of mutual trust within itself. Project teams without these values fail to implement agile in the true sense.
I believe that because of the conflict between the organizational culture and the aspects of the agile manifesto, many of the projects fail to give the customer satisfaction that is required of them. Especially in the cases of software outsourcing companies, it is has been observed that a failure like this is not taken well by the client company and at times the client demands a transition to another such software services company even if that requires a high cost on the part of the client.
However, expecting the team to change the organizational culture is a bit difficult and will almost always meet high resistance from both the ranks of management and also the team members. Can we adapt agile to such organizations without hassles?

Agile Experience in a Software Services Company

Third paper reviewed: Agile Experience in a Software Services Company
Authors: Jakub Rudzki Solita Oy, Imed Hummouda Tampere University of Technology, Tuomas Mikkola Solita Oy
Year Published: 2009
Date Reviewed: October 15th, 2011
Most of the big software companies in India are service oriented companies. These companies serve other companies by accepting their projects on a contract basis. However, in most of these case, along with the actual project come the development models associated with them. The agile methodologies have gained popularity with such projects.
This particular paper explores projects in a software services company Solita Oy based in Finland. This company counts companies like Oracle as its clientele. This paper presents a case study of 18 projects within this company. The projects range from using waterfall and iterative models to the agile scrum model.
The authors found that although project which used agile scored high on team performance and project success, they were not as popular with the client. Customer satisfaction was higher in the iterative model. However, in other factors, agile was at par with other models.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Agile Development in a Bureaucratic Arena

Second paper reviewed: Agile Development in a bureaucratic arena – A case study experience
Author: Hilary Berger Cardiff School of Management
Year Published: 2007
Date Reviewed: September 22nd, 2011
After having questions regarding the success of Agile in a hierarchical organization, I tried to look for research in this area. I chanced to look into this particular paper by Hilary Berger. This is a case study of a real project by a UK Regional Government Department that is responsible for managing the administration and expenditure of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
This paper has shown that Agile Development has enabled the users to finally get a released product fast enough. However, it also showed the hindrances programmers faced during this process. Due to the inequalities in the organization, the inherent ‘blame’ system continued during this too. According to Agile, a programming delay should be flexible enough to be deferred to the next release. This was not accepted easily by the levels in management. The blame culture remained prevalent.
One more factor was that higher levels in the bureaucracy were reluctant in relinquishing control of the project. Agile relies on quick decision-making activities at the developer level. The senior levels however found it difficult to give this decision-making power in the hands of the base level programmers.
The paper however concluded that the basic culture must evolve in order to make Agile highly effective. I somehow find this idea utopian as it is very difficult to make and break a corporate culture. I feel that there must be some way in which one can make Agile effective even in a bureaucracy. I believe that if this methodology can bring about a flexibility in the development of software, it should be flexible by itself to adapt to any culture it is used in.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Agile Software Development

First paper reviewed: Agile Software Development - A Survey of Early Adopters
Leo R. Vijayasarathy Colorado State University
Dan Turk Colorado State University      
Year Published: 2008
Date Reviewed: September 18th, 2011
The motivation of this paper is mainly to gauge the acceptance of Agile Methodologies in the industry. This was a result of an internet survey directed towards Yahoo groups members. Of the 98 respondents of this survey, 81 were from the USA; 4 each from Canada, India and the UK; 1 each from Australia, Botswana, Colombia, Mexico and New Zealand.
Although there were many benefits of Agile discovered through this survey, and most of the respondents were positive about it, there was a stark number of limitations that were listed. There were 6 main advantages of Agile including better meeting customer needs and faster time to delivery. However, there were 15 limitations spotted with it which included limited support and lack of documentation.
This is a point to ponder upon. Although most of the members using Agile are happy with it, there were far too many limitations listed out in sheer numbers. Agile is flexible and widely used, however there must be a way to reduce these limitations.
One more point that struck me was that most of the respondents were from the USA. The effect of culture on Agile has not been considered as determining factor. We have not considered the problems faced by people in more rigid, hierarchical environments. Agile cannot sustain in a hierarchy but most companies in countries such as India have a rigid hierarchical structure. Also, 98 respondents do not seem enough for judging the success of a methodology.
I feel that we need more information to meter the success of this methodology.