Master Thesis

Identifying Friction between Large-scale Agile Software Development and Plan-based Business Processes
by T. Altehed and R. Ingmarsson

Status: Presented and finalized.
Supervisor: Robert Feldt
Examiner: Helena Holmström Olsson
Publications based on thesis: In submission

PDF: Final thesis PDF

Agile software development has transitioned from small projects to large-scale enterprise settings, incorporating additional influences from lean manufacturing principles such as an end-to-end perspective. At an Ericsson development unit studied in this paper, one such process consisting of both agility and planning is deployed in a large-scale setting, having more than 300 developers within more than 30 teams continuously developing software comprising several million lines of code. In this study, thirteen employees participated in interviews, in a workshop and responded to a questionnaire. The collected data was analyzed using an analysis process influenced by grounded theory, resulting in a characterization of friction, i.e. gaps in expected behavior and actual observations between employees in units of the organization working either plan-based or according to agile practices. The results showed that such friction was present between plan-based product management and agile development, as well as between agile development and the plan-based release unit. Furthermore, it was indicated that separation of agile and plan-based organizational units leads to a lack of understanding others' work and valuations, limiting possibilities to optimize across the whole organization. In general, findings indicated a need of improving this end-to-end perspective and it was therefore suggested to incorporate plan-based units into the agile way of working in order to lower barriers of achieving a cross-organizational improvements.