Sif E. Elharti's Blog

Even small acts can have a great impact…

How far is your project “Agile”?

with 6 comments

The field of software development, like any other one, cannot escape the fashion effect. Suddenly! Everyone wants to become “Agile”, because a patron has read an article, or because a competitor did the transition … or many other reasons. I would say, in this case, that any reason is good, as long as we do so in the rules of art. And one of the basic rules of agility is to see the reality as it is and self-criticise! And that’s the purpose of this reflection.

Here are some questions that I find interesting for a first self-assessment of Agility in your organization. By answering honestly to this list (you do not need to do so publicly!), you will find the answer by yourself, if it’s not the case ask for help. The “you” used can be any person involved in or who has the opportunity to follow a project that wants to be “Agile”.


1-      Has your customer the right to change his mind during the project?

2-      Your customer – or someone who can make decisions on his behalf – participates in the project? (launch and delivery are excluded)

3-      Your relationship with the customer is contract or collaboration oriented?


4-      Is your product developed in incremental way?

5-      If your project is stopped today (assuming it started a will ago), will you have something to deliver?

6-      Is there one person who decides about the product’s contents and their priorities?


7-      Is your team dedicated to the project? (Not disturbed for everything and nothing.)

8-      Is your team self-organized? (There is no one who shows her how to do her job.)

9-      Does your team act as a single unit (like the three musketeers: all for one and one for all!)

10-   Is your team independent? (She has all the resources and skills necessary for project success.)

11-   Do you see any interaction between members of the team?

12-   Are there any members in your team who refuse to code? (No, I do not touch this …!)


13-   Do you have regular meetings, brief and subject to time constraints or rather long and unexpected?

14-   Do you spend more time on the layout (PowerPoint…) than on the content of your communications?

15-   Do you write documentation just to follow protocol or rather because it is needed and useful?


16-   Do you have any support from your organization to fulfil your project needs?

17-   Does your organization promote people or processes?

18-   Do you have always to struggle to bring together all stakeholders of your project?

Technology and Environment

19-   Is your team in an open working space? (large distributed teams are not considered in this list)

20-   Is your team up to date (aware of changes and new products) related to the technologies you are using or may use?

21-   Do you have at least three environments (development, testing, and production)?

22-   Do you have automated tests?

To Finish

23-   Are you and members of the team happy to go to work every morning? (Especially Mondays!)

But it’s not over!

Of course, this checklist does not cover all aspects of Agility, but it can at least give an idea about your environment and, I hope, may help to improve it.

If after answering, you think your organization is “Agile” or pretty “Agile”, stay on your guard because being “Agile” is also about being vigilant!

Sif E. Elharti

Even small acts can have a great impact…


Written by selharti

April 15, 2010 at 12:41 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Sif, I like this sort of thing, I do something similar to give a measurement of compliance to what we consider best practice. I think of the points you list the key ones are

    2 – customer or delegate participating
    5 – deployable code made ready through CI and daily or regular build
    12 – everyone needs to be up for any challenge
    13 – regular short meetings
    22 – automated testing

    As you say there are plenty more – if you allow me to add one I would say that everything the team does needs to add value.

    David McLean

    April 16, 2010 at 6:20 am

    • Hi David, I appreciate your comments. I’m looking for those kinds of suggestions to enhance the self-assessment tool by enforcing some elements and adding or removing some others.
      Thank you,


      April 16, 2010 at 8:52 am

  2. Hi Sif,

    2 things:

    – I would like to republish you article on PM Hut, please either email me or contact me through the “Contact Us” form on the PM Hut site if you’re OK with this.
    – I have published an article examining the subject from a totally different perspective (a bit sarcastic): Are We Agile Yet? I hope you’ll get the chance to read it.

    PM Hut

    April 17, 2010 at 9:35 am

    • Hi,
      – I believe knowledge becomes richer with sharing. I welcome you to republish the article as far as you keep the references visible (name and link to my blog). Thank you for this initiative.
      – For sure I’ll be happy to read your article and I’ll do so just after this message.
      Thanks for your interest.


      April 17, 2010 at 1:22 pm

  3. Hi Sif,

    Have you seen Alistait Cockburn’s criteria for evaluating agile projects? – – IMHO its the best list out there because it’s implementation neutral.


    April 17, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    • Hi Siddharta,
      Thank you for the reference.
      In fact it’s a good one.


      April 18, 2010 at 11:30 pm

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