Agile series: The success factors

virtualization-benefits-4-success-factors-300x179Yes managers, this is it. In the past, team members trusted the decisions of their manager and followed him/her religiously. But now, with Agile approaches, it is the manager who has to accept the decisions of the team. It is the manager who has to trust the team members and allow them as many liberties and decision-making powers as possible. In order to really become successful through the implementation of an Agile approach, company-wide commitment is essential. The implementation usually requires a culture conversion or at least a culture adaptation. For example, it’s very common for people who are not able to work in an Agile environment to leave the company; then these persons have to be replaced by new people; and every time a member joins the team, he /she needs to adapt to the new work culture.

A lot also depends on the commitment and collaboration within the team members. Success can only be achieved if the members truly act as “one team.” This means that they should not work in  silos of designers, programmers, tester and users, but should all work closely together. Furthermore, all development processes need to be integrated. Meaning, there should be no disconnected development and test processes, but completely integrated and simultaneous design, programming and test activities. This integration applies to all the team members and activities. Someone with a programming role needs to be willing to take on other types of activities, such as test automation activities or helping the product owner to create the user stories. Of course, all these depend on the knowledge and skills of the person in question. In general, each team member is expected to cover one discipline excellently and should be prepared to learn a second or a third in addition to his/her core area of expertise. The members of an Agile team need to have multidisciplinary skills.

As indicated in the above paragraphs, the implementation of an Agile approach does seem to be a big
process. Many organizations do struggle with that and even make a mess out of it. One of the key reasons is, the resistance to change within the team. The true ‘key’ success factor is, therefore, to ensure proper guidance during the implementation of an Agile approach, by involving a change manager or a scrum coach.

The implementation of an Agile approach is a learning trajectory, which means you learn by falling
down and picking yourself up again. Some implementations are a quick success while others
take longer. It is important to learn from each mistake and make sure these are improved or
corrected in the subsequent iterations. So, don’t give up to easily and don’t be afraid to make a mistake, because we “fail to succeed”!

Leo van der Aalst


Leo van der Aalst is Dutch and studied chemistry, mathematics, physics and biology. However, he switched over to IT almost thirty years ago. After having gone through the classic IT path - from programmer to program manager - he became a specialist in the testing area, in which he held functions such as test manager, test advisor, research & development manager, line manager and agile coach. Leo applied his knowledge and experience in the project- and test management field during a number of international projects and consultancy trajectories (in USA, Germany, Denmark and Austria). He also likes to share his knowledge with other people by writing books and articles, and giving presentations en workshops. Leo is co-author of TMap NEXT® for result-driven testing, TMap NEXT® Business Driven Test Management, TMap® Human Driven and TMap NEXT® in scrum books. He has written many articles (e.g. ‘Software Testing as a Service - STaaS’), which can be found through his website ( Leo is past professor Software Quality at Fontys University Eindhoven in the Netherlands, a much sought-after teacher of test training and a regular speaker at national and international conferences. Leo is an accredited trainer for courses as Certified Agile Tester (CAT), ISTQB Agile-Tester and TMap Suite Test Engineer and Test Master. Besides all this, Leo is development lead of the ISTQB Foundation and Advanced Agile-Tester Syllabi - which are chaired by Rex -, member of the programme committee of the (Dutch) National Software Quality Conference, fellow of SogetiLabs and member of Capgemini Expert Connect.

More on Leo van der Aalst.

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