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Agile adoption prevented by lack of understanding, not money

When a business becomes agile, it can better sense and respond to opportunities quickly with minimum disruption and without losing momentum.

This may be developing new products to meet a market demand, or accelerating strategic change to counter ever-growing competitor activity. As the ever competitive international business marketplace continues to expand, accelerating adoption is key to staying one step ahead of the competition and ultimately, succeeding in your own business objectives.

Our recent data explores the drivers and difficulties faced for agile adoptions across UK businesses. The study of 150 UK IT decision-makers suggests that while IT decision-makers understand the business benefits, four out of five (82 per cent) respondents believe there are still challenges to adopting agile for their organisations.

Challenges facing agile adoption

The biggest of these challenges appears to be a lack of understanding and knowledge of what agile actually is. Of those surveyed, 36 per cent of respondents believe that they do not have a clear understanding.

Over a third of the respondents cited implementation time as prohibitive to adopting an agile approach, while compatibility and suitability of agile to their business is seen as a hindrance to one in three respondents. Interestingly, the research also shows that the cost of implementation is not considered to be a major obstacle - with just 15 per cent of decision-makers considering this to be a reason for their non-adoption.

In terms of an overall need for an agile approach, 40 per cent of businesses said that their IT departments are currently expected to take on a greater amount of work with fewer people, with 87 per cent of these claiming that agile can help address this 'to some extent'. A hallmark of a successful agile adoption is a reduction in wasteful activities alongside a culture of continuous improvement. With 70 per cent claiming that they would be likely to adopt agile in the future, it is clear that businesses are prepared to invest in an agile transformation in order to achieve these potential efficiency.

2016 is set to be a big year for agile with two-thirds (62 per cent) of respondents claiming their organisation to be 'agile to an extent'. IT departments are currently leading the way for agile adoption, with 42 per cent of respondents claiming that agile has increased within the last year. One quarter of decision-makers are, however, experiencing growth of agile into other areas of the business beyond IT, such as HR and finance, and nearly 50 per cent expect this to be the case for them in the next 12 months.

This research reveals clear momentum when it comes to the adoption of agile as businesses slowly begin to realise the potential benefits it offers, but more progress must be made to ensure that the approach is better understood by business leaders. Greater comprehension of what agile means will result in further widespread adoption of practices in the UK and more fluid and responsive organisational processes, leading to increased business performance overall.

Andy Sales, Agile Consultant, CA Technologies