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In the mid-1990s agile practices emerged as an alternative to more plan-driven development approaches aiming at overcoming their limitations. Since then many different organizations have applied different types and different levels of agility on different projects. However, the circumstances under which agile is efficient have not been well explored.

The main objective of EASE research on agile methods (project C1) is an increased understanding of agility. This will be manifested through identifying a set of agile practices that have been applied in different contexts as well as exploring their effects on specific outcome variables (e.g. customer satisfaction). It is initiated with reviewing relevant research literature in parallel with regular discussions with industrial partners of the project. The ongoing step is to define agile in terms of what practices and to what extent they truly claim being agile.

– The outcome of this research project is a general framework that will help project managers in investigating the applicability of certain agile practices based on their current situation when setting up agile projects. Furthermore, it will provide a basis for defining and measuring agility in software industry, says Samireh Jalali, PhD student in theme C.

Context awareness
Since agile practices can be successful in one context and fail in another, the research project focuses on viewing agile software development from different perspectives such as team, project, product, organization and customer.

– One of the tricky parts will be to collect agile setups and project outcomes from a sufficient number of real projects to cover the main combinations of projects contexts. To study this we will primarily use the EASE industry partners but also other companies, says Samireh.
One of the industry partners involved in the project is Softhouse Consulting that in collaboration with their customers will assist in finding real projects to test the framework.

– The resulting framework will help us to assess and support clients wanting to improve performance based on the agile toolbox. The different perspectives and the unified model to measure agility will hopefully be a good contribution to the agile community – and to our business, says Anders Sixtensson, Business Unit Manager at Softhouse.

Samireh Jalali intends to present her licentiate thesis on the subject late 2011.