A lot has been written about the Agile practice worldwide as well as in Europe! Agile is more and more discussed as a strategical approach that can boost organisations to achieve results faster and more efficiently. As a result, Agile practices have been experiencing a growing interest during the last years, and many organisations have started to gradually adopt them to take advantage of the benefits they can offer to them on the whole operations spectrum.
However, a question that quickly arises is: How well is Agile integrated within companies?
To answer this intriguing question, PMI Luxembourg Chapter and PwC Luxembourg joined forces back in 2017 for the first time to investigate the degree to which the concept of Agility is embedded in companies operating in Luxembourg. As a result, a survey was launched that year with the aim to uncover the degree of adoption of Agile, outline the understanding of Agile within the organisations, shed light on the barriers vs facilitators that companies encounter and reveal the relevant practices most used.
The results of this first attempt were extremely stimulating. They shaped a very vibrant picture of the situation around Agile implementation in Luxembourg's multi-cultural business environment. Consequently, the two partners decided to relaunch the survey in 2019 to follow up on the findings of the previous study and identify changes. Moreover, it was identified as significant to examine possible differences and similarities about the situation concerning Agile in other European countries. Fortunately, the project was espoused by the PMI European Chapter Collaboration, and via this initiative, other European PMI Chapters were invited to participate. PMI Poland and Croatia Chapters gladly joined the initiative.
It became apparent, after the second survey, that this exercise has a lot to offer; firstly, as a great investigation tool about the reality of Agile in Europe but also added as an excellent opportunity for PMI to foster collaboration within European Chapters and produce knowledge-sharing material for its members and audiences.
In 2021, the survey was re-released for the third time in the middle of the pandemic crisis. The efforts to attract and recruit more Chapters was very successful as 17 PMI Chapters, representing 15 countries, accepted the challenge to benchmark the level of adoption of Agile and investigate similarities and peculiarities among the various business environments.
So, where were Luxembourgish companies stood on the Agile landscape last year?
With the practice of Agile maturing over time, it is interesting to see that the concept has evolved significantly from an isolated technique to new company culture. The study revealed that Agile has transitioned from a framework to a cultural mindset – a testament to the recognition that Agile has evolved beyond a simple project delivery method to something inherent to the organisation. Companies in Luxembourg are still being cautious, recognising that there are still challenges ahead to reorganise their strategy and cultural mindset to fully embrace Agile.
According to the survey findings, understanding of Agile has improved amongst companies in Luxembourg, with Agile shifting from the experimental phase to broader adoption. With the technology sector being the main sponsor of Agile implementation, the practice is primarily integrated at an IT project level. Reduced delivery time and increased business value for customers are highlighted as the two main benefits of Agile adoption, with the emergence of new modes of collaboration as the most experienced positive outcome of the transition. Luxembourg companies have identified Scrum, Kanban and DevOps as the most widely-used approaches for project implementation, though it is not a "one-size-fits-all" approach.
Nevertheless, while the shift from the experimental to the broader adoption phase points to a promising further uptake of the Agile practice, organisations in Luxembourg are still being cautious, recognising that there are yet challenges ahead in order to reorganise their strategy and cultural mindset to fully embrace Agile. Engrained traditional methods and the lack of initiative from management to drive Agile adoption through the culture of the firm act as the main impediments to the further integration of Agile.
Furthermore, organisations that have conducted limited agile projects tend to find difficulties with integrating this methodology into the release planning of new products, while those who already integrate Agile into a high number of projects face issues of dependencies and planning – when scaling up agile practices.
Finally, the benchmarking exercise highlighted that with the higher percentage of businesses in the experimentation phase and lower percentages in the incorporation phase seen across Europe, Luxembourg companies are further along the adoption curve, now looking into scaling the practice. This is a clear sign of higher innovation in Luxembourg and demonstrates the country's initiative to adapt to the increasingly competitive and digital business environment.
As a result, the practice of Agile seems to be on track to play a more significant role in Luxembourgish companies in the coming years. Hopefully, the envisioned fourth Agile survey in 2023 will allow us to evaluate whether these hopes will materialise and the rate of this evolution.
Thus, stay tuned for the 2023 edition and perhaps participate in it either as respondents or as members of the project team! You are ALL more than welcome!
The European survey analysis is foreseen to be released at the end of the 1st trimester of 2022!
Nassos Karageorgiadis, MSc, PMI-PBA, CBAP, PRINCE2