March 2022

Confirming the trend already identified in our previous studies, the transformation to agile organizations is high on the agenda of many companies and public sector organizations. There is consensus that ever more rapid change and thus the ever more volatile world of work must be met with the integrative power that agility offers.

True agility goes beyond the mere use of agile methods: it achieves the goals linked to the introduction of agile methods, as confirmed by our current study, “Agile Pulse 2022.” The data set for the study was collected through an online questionnaire that generated over 1,160 validated responses.

Despite the confirmed high relevance of agile methods, targeted goals are not yet being achieved across the board

It was nearly unanimous: 96 percent of participants surveyed rate the future relevance of agile methods as high. The reasons for adopting agile methods are diverse. The most frequently selected were improved responsiveness, improved collaboration, increased speed and improved product quality. It is clear that some organizations are mainly product-driven and put customers first, while others act more concerning employees. However, if the desired goals of introducing agile methods are compared with the improvements achieved in each case, we find that, on average, eight out of nine goals have not been reached.

Maturity and application levels: agile methods are used by 30 percent of respondents and increasingly at higher organizational levels

30 percent of respondents use agile methods exclusively, and 75 percent use agile management methods in product development and project management. In most cases, the use of agile methods begins at the team level. In addition, agility is also used extensively at the program, management and strategy/portfolio levels. Compared to the 2020 survey results, the use of agile methods at the management level, in particular, significantly increased by 15 percent. On average, all respondents have been using single or multiple agile methods for more than five years.

Six dimensions measure the holistic agility of organizations:

  • Culture
  • Processes
  • Products
  • Structures
  • Technologies
  • Methods

Through the holistic implementation of agile transformations, taking all dimensions into account, an agile state (= agile maturity) must be achieved and maintained. This state must be consistently developed further. This foundation enables organizations and their employees to be agile instead of merely doing agile. To quantify the concrete benefits of a holistic, agile transformation, the influence on the following three aspects was measured: achieving the organizational goals associated with agility, the professional satisfaction of employees, and resilience to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Julia von Spreckelsen, Partner and Head of Agile Advisory Germany at BearingPoint

Our study confirms the benefits of agility and shows the enormous potential. However, it also shows that many organizations do not achieve their goals linked to the introduction of agility. One reason for this is that these organizations already consider their agile transformation complete by introducing an agile method or framework, which is not enough. An agile transformation includes changes in corporate culture, structures and processes right through to technologies and products. Above all, these organizations do not address the cultural change or not consistently enough. As a result, a holistic, agile transformation stops before it has really begun and prevents the organizations from achieving their goals.

Julia von Spreckelsen, Partner and Head of Agile Advisory Germany at BearingPoint

Significant improvements at the organizational and employee levels

Organizations pursue specific goals by introducing agility, the achievement of which depends on their agile maturity. The study shows that organizations with a higher level of agile maturity also have a higher level of goal achievement. Furthermore, agility has positive effects at the employee level: according to the results, holistic agility increases employee identification and satisfaction.

Agility vs. COVID-19

In general, the more agile the organization, the more resilient it is in times of crisis. That was particularly evident during the pandemic. Differences across maturity levels were particularly notable in how remote work was handled during the pandemic.

Drivers and challenges

Management levels are only partially perceived by participants as drivers of agile transformation. The respondents primarily rate factors of change.

Future relevance of agility

91 percent of participants see the relevance of agility increasing in the future. At 64 percent, the most significant potential is seen in IT and software development, while the least potential is seen in the legal department.

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