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Agile & Product Management

What does 2024 hold for agile? 5 experts weigh in

The tech industry rarely slows down, and to keep up, the concept of “Agile methodology” emerged over 2 decades ago as a better way to foster innovation. 

After years of countless major tech companies introducing Agile, creating jobs solely to facilitate Agile processes, and living by the “Agile Manifesto,” Agile has had its share of criticisms, adaptations, and advocates. 

But where does Agile stand in 2024? We asked 5 experts who have spent many years leading agile teams what trends we will likely see in the agile space in 2024. Here’s what they said…

The TLDR (too long, didn’t read!)
🔗 Strictly Agile roles may become more consolidated and/or reduced
🏃 Teams may be tempted to move away from agile, but it will be to their (and the economy’s) detriment
🤖 Agile will remain critical to innovation in Artificial Intelligence
🤑 Agile investment will pick up as the economy improves

The evolution of traditional agile roles

Agile methodology has created many new roles in the software industry over the years, but, like any other role in tech, they are expected to evolve. Here’s how: 

Expertise will shift to AI 

2023 was the year of AI, so the increase of AI applications in agile processes isn’t surprising. Klaus Boedker, Owner & CEO at Happier at Work, believes that this evolution will start with expertise: “I foresee a trend where certain “expert tasks” will gradually transition to generative AI and advice traditionally provided by a ScrumMaster or Agile Coach will come from ChatGPT.” 

This transition has the potential to make teams more self-reliant and democratize agile knowledge, but how will it impact agile roles? “Effective ScrumMasters and Agile Coaches will adapt by reinforcing other facets of their role, such as facilitation, training, observations, generating improvement ideas, and supporting the overall team growth,” says Klaus. 

Consolidation of roles and responsibilities

The consolidation of agile roles came up a lot with experts: “The trend that I’m seeing is that organizations are moving away from specialized agile roles,” says Brock Argue, Co-founder of Superheroes Academy. “Now, they’re hiring individuals with multiple deep technical specialties AND the ability to work in an agile environment.” 

But it doesn’t mean agile practitioners will go away–it just means there will be less emphasis on agile being the only aspect of their job. Still, “Agile skills and mindset are now table stakes,” he confirms. 

Zach Hanson, Solution Lead at Nextdata, believes that this will particularly apply to product roles: “I believe that agile roles will continue to morph into one unified product role. The expectation will be for agile practitioners to level up their technical skills to help in all areas of cross-functional teams.” So, if working on your technical skills was your New Year’s resolution, you may be on the right track. 

Increased credibility for agile roles

Despite the consolidation of agile roles, Agile credentials have gotten harder to obtain: “We’ve seen some new certification paths getting stricter, which not only supports better skills development but also elevates the confidence in hiring people who have been challenged and had to prove themselves,” says Pedro Catoira, Sr Director of Agile Delivery at Lotlinx. 

Taking an increase in skills development into account, some organizations may reconsider role consolidation: “I see 2024 as a year where we will start to see a change in the companies’ perception of any Agile Practitioner Role as a challenging career,” he affirms.

Economically motivated changes 

There’s been a lot of discussion around the economic state of 2024, particularly in tech. Here’s how experts are saying the economy will affect agility this year: 

Reduction and (again) consolidation of roles

When discussing role consolidation, cost-cutting was regarded as a top motivation for this: “It is highly likely the ScrumMaster as a profession role will be substantially reduced or removed, and the ScrumMaster function assigned to line managers or team leads,” says Steve Adolph, Agile Coach.

Still, he says, there is hope for ScrumMasters who “clearly demonstrate the benefit they are creating for the enterprise and not just a team.”

So, how should you prepare? ScrumMasters: actively find ways to demonstrate value to the organization as a whole rather than just the team. Team leads: consider honing your agile skills because you may be asked to take on more agile responsibilities. 

Lack of movement in agile investment (for now)

When organizations aren’t seeing much growth, it’s hard to expect investment in agile practices: “Due to the stagnant economy, I believe Agile Roles will remain the same as it is now, for at least the first one or two quarters of 2024,” Pedro predicts.

The catch-22? “We’ve seen the trend of investment in Agility tied to the economy’s success,” he claims. So perhaps, to see more growth, organizations wanting to get ahead in terms of growth should consider investing in agile sooner rather than later.

Agile for fostering AI growth

Last year, countless companies bet big on artificial intelligence. Now, these companies face pressure to deliver on these AI innovations–a perfect application for Agile. Pedro predicts that “Agility in 2024 will have a direct investment and impact related to the expansion of AI, where innovation is needed, complexity is extreme, and experimentation is key!”

Because of this, the “stagnant investment in agility” trend likely won’t last long. Teams will need to innovate faster and, with that, practice some form of agility. 

Adopt or Abandon Agile?

Alright, it’s time for the million-dollar question: will organizations adopt or abandon Agile this year?

Toying with abandoning agile

“Agile, as defined by the manifesto and as practiced by many coaches, has become a trigger word for many leaders and has lost credibility,” states Steve. Because of this, teams might start toying with the idea of abandoning it altogether. 

But what if they actually do? Steve reminds us of the economic implications of this: “Agile is much more than the Manifesto. It is an economic strategy for gaining a competitive advantage and is essential for succeeding in today’s rapidly changing environment.” So, maybe abandoning it is far too risky from a business perspective. 

Zach agrees, stating, “As budgets tighten, I think some teams may abandon agile for a short time, only to find that doing “without” causes more harm than good. Thus swinging the pendulum back to Agile once the economy levels out.” So it seems the current economy may tempt teams into an Agile-free working style, but only to their detriment. 

Agile will become an expectation

Using the past as a guide to the future, it seems organizations won’t be able to escape Agile’s history of success: “In 2024, it won’t be about adopting or abandoning agile because companies all see themselves as agile already. The focus for teams in 2024 will be on delivery and productivity,” says Brock. 

So, maybe let’s not count on Agile going out of fashion any time soon. Count on it evolving, being optimized, and supporting the ongoing tech innovation that leads to healthy economic growth. 

Want to see how you can maximize your team’s agility? Sign up for a free demo of Zenhub here. 

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