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The Innovation Amplifier for Agile Software Development

More than Just Moving Around Sticky Notes

This blog was written in cooperation with Buffadoo. TIOBE supports Buffadoo in performing Innovation Amplifier projects. You can visit their website for more information on the Innovation Amplifier. 

Agile software development in most organizations

Many organizations start their agile journey only to be disappointed at its limited impact on reliable planning, quality and delivery speed. If this is your experience, you are not alone. 

In search of better profitability, many organizations have tried to adopt an agile software development process. More often than not, agile transformation projects do not bring the expected gains. A typical root cause for a failed transformation is that the focus was only on “ways of working” and only involved the software team. 

Delivering software that delights customers is about more than moving around sticky notes and PI planning. Many agile transformations “start in the software team”. Business stakeholders expect more output, but don’t see themselves as part of the solution. Overloading the software team with work and changing direction frequently will always limit the improvements a team can make. 

With the over-emphasis in many agile transformations on ‘ways of working’, intake and planning of work, the factors of quality and craftsmanship are overlooked. This is a critical error: innovation is inherently multi-dimensional. It transcends ‘agile rituals’ and taps into the broader business environment, architecture and code quality. 

Improving the Agile Software Development Process

True innovation speed is a product of multiple factors: business environment x team maturity x architecture x code quality. Innovation is like growing a plant: it requires sunlight, water and fertilizer, and if one of these factors is absent, growth will always be limited. To go back to our situation: focusing only on Teams and Processes will not yield optimal results. 

Buffadoo has come up with a holistic model to cover all aspects of successful software development: the Innovation Amplifier. This comprehensive framework is designed to expand and enrich the software ecosystem in organizations  

So, what does the Innovation Amplifier consist of?

  1. Business Environment Scan: No software team can be successful if they are disconnected from the end-users’ needs. In our evaluation of the business environment, we look at how well the organization ‘around’ the development team helps or hinders innovation R&D outcomes. In many organizations, the portfolio is allowed to increase without restriction, while development spending is expected to decrease. This imbalance needs to be recognized and restored. Furthermore, in search of profitability, many innovation initiatives run parallel, slowing every individual project down. We look at all these aspects, helping executives make choices to optimize portfolio profitability. This means answering questions like “How is the profitability of a new business opportunity requiring software determined?”, “Are the business drivers in line with the organizational capabilities?” and “Are commitments to customers made in alignment with the commitments of the R&D team?
  2. Architecture & Code Quality Assessment: Code quality is an essential part of software delivery. Without sufficient quality, software will cause field defects and functionality will not work as expected in all circumstances. Customers will get annoyed and possibly stop using the software. ISO 25010 is a recognized standard that holistically defines software product quality. It consists of 8 quality characteristics such as reliability, security, and maintainability. Although the ISO 25010 defines all kinds of quality characteristics, it doesn’t state how to measure these attributes or qualify for the standard. TIOBE has defined the TIOBE Quality Indicator (TQI) to measure the ISO 25010, and therefore, code quality. This is done in a standardized way that allows benchmarking with 8,000+ other industrial projects. TIOBE conducts assessments and continuous monitoring to see whether projects qualify for this ISO 25010 standard. Since TIOBE is an official TUViT partner, it is even possible to get an official TUViT certificate.   
  3. Team Experience & Process Maturity Scan: Ways of working and processes are critical elements to innovation success. The agile manifesto brought us iteration, but sometimes at the cost of design upfront and healthy consolidation. If you double your team in one year under project delivery pressure, chances are you will not see the benefits. Fred Brooks spoke about that in the mythical man-month, but too often, revenue and cost pressures are so high development teams grow or shrink in ways that result in high inefficiencies. In our team experience & process maturity scan we address questions such as “How experienced is the team? How long do they work together?” and “How mature are the CI/CD practices? Does the team prioritize delivery pipeline quality over new features?” 

This methodical, five-step approach helps organizations untangle the complexities of innovation:

The Innovation Amplifier complements TIOBE’s core service of code quality assessment by providing a wider lens through which to view software development. It’s about cultivating an ecosystem where innovation flourishes on the bedrock of quality code. Through the Innovation Amplifier, we are enthusiastic about guiding organizations to discover the full range of elements vital for successful innovation, contributing to your unique innovation narrative.