Agile & Return on Investment

Kay Paulus recently posed the question “How do you measure ROI on bringing in an Agile Coach?” on the LinkedIn Agile & Lean Software Development group discussion forum. For what it’s worth here’s my tuppenceworth…

As a software developer I strongly believe that what I do is both a science and a craft. I think the science bit is a prerequisite and I understand how to measure it. However, I think it’s the craft that delivers great software and that’s where a large part of the value in my work is.

With Agile I think, whilst there is a science, the value is even more weighted towards the craft. In my experience the biggest headwind to the adoption of great Agile practices is a strong resistance from corporate culture. Most often, at very senior levels, managers pay lip service but do not really believe in it and are not fully committed. This is the biggest challenge to Agile coaching. True success comes when the answer to ‘how do we measure ROI?’ is ‘We really don’t need to’. If senior managers are already asking the question before you start then you already know their credulity is slim and you have a tough nut to crack.