This month, VersionOne released their 12th\u00a0annual \u201cState of Agile\u201d report. Many companies use this report as a weather vane for software delivery trends. Let\u2019s look at those changing trends and examine how they could impact your bottom line. Please note that executives comprise only 3 percent of the roughly 1,500 respondents. However, most leaders will be more interested in the overall results and not the details of Agile delivery.\nThe report provides plenty of metrics and conclusions and wading through that without detailed Agile knowledge will likely result in a loss of awareness of where the industry has changed in direct in response to the market, end user results, and competition gains\/losses.\nA great, high-level snapshot of VersionOne\u2019s summary of the report can be found in their Top Agile and devops Trends web page. However, additional trends are overlooked or understated. Hence, here is my \u201calternative view\u201d of the top lessons from a leadership perspective:\n\nAgile is easy to learn, but hard to master; that will not change\nDeliver valuable products as the customer sees it\nThe product owner as the linchpin\nScaling Agile has become the norm\nDevops must be adopted to stay competitive\nThere should be one System of Record to rule them all\n\n1. Agile is easy to learn but hard to master; that will not change\nAs acknowledged many times in the past, software development does not follow a simple repeatable rulebook like following a recipe or even building a house, and there will always be project failures under Agile. Uncertainty rules software delivery, especially early on and throwing the word \u201cAgile\u201d at it, by following a set of guidelines and ceremonies are not enough to be successful. Agile helps expose issues quicker, but then the real work is for teams and leadership to figure out together how to solve those problems quickly, efficiently and effectively.\n2. Deliver valuable products as the customer sees it\nCustomer satisfaction is listed at 57 percent as the top measurement of success in the State of Agile report.\u00a0 Before the \u201cage of the personal device,\u201d IT ruled product development since few had the technical skills as end users to recognize well made products versus poorly made products. Now that all users know technology, delivering desirable solutions while ensuring those solutions are both viable (will make money) and feasible (can be realistically made) are part of the \u201cnew delivery triangle\u201d of desirable \u2013 feasible \u2013 viable.\n3. The product owner as a linchpin\nWe have seen in the report that delivering valuable products as the customer sees it. To obtain valuable products, bridging business and IT to the needs of the customer is essential. The role of product owner (PO) in Agile focuses on interpreting the product prioritization and direction for IT to deliver. Having a full time PO enables further Business and IT alignment. Per the State of Agile report that is changing, now with 63 percent dedicated PO versus 55 percent in 2017 and 49 percent in 2016. Often in the past, only technical subject matter experts or inexperienced employees took on the PO role. That trend has been changing, where enterprises that product owners often take the role of the \u201cCEO of the Product\u201d along with the product manager and experience in these roles matter for the level of product success.\n4. Scaling Agile has become the norm\nBack in the early days of expanding Agile delivery beyond a single team ten years ago, the Scrum of Scrums (SoS) was the one and only ceremony. In 2016, SoS garnered 72 percent of the scaling responses, now down to 19 percent in 2018. What a radical shift!\u00a0 That shift has replaced SoS with new more prescriptive frameworks such as Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Large Scaled Scrum (LeSS), Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD), Nexus, the Spotify model and a plethora of others, supporting that Scaling Agile provides a competitive edge. Managing multiple teams between business and technology in a unified and predictable manner has become a clear benefit for solutions involvement large teams and many dependencies. If you are part of large organization and not Scaling Agile for your digital products, you are falling behind your competitors.\n5. Devops adoption to stay competitive\nNo longer considered optional by most businesses, devops has proven effective in bringing concepts to cash quicker. For the State of Agile report, devops was not mentioned and now it has rapidly gain its own section in this year\u2019s report with 73 percent either adopting or planning to adopt devops. It\u2019s no secret Amazon releases every 11.6 seconds through an advanced devops maturity. It\u2019s no secret Netflix has built out a high performance, \u201calways up\u201d production environment through the Chaos Monkey tool intentionally breaking \/ disconnecting servers to improve automated recovery for greater resiliency. Now not every enterprise needs to be Amazon nor Netflix, but devops is at the heart of product delivery speed. Considering lean concepts of product delivery, devops enables businesses to deliver more predictable, resilient and dependable releases faster. Today, software solutions migrated to the cloud come with a suite of devops based tools for streamlining this journey even faster.\n6. One System of Record to rule them all\nHaving a centralized system of record, shown in the report as recommended Agile project management tools, helps companies focus their business and technical direction in one place. Within the State of Agile report, a \u201ccommon tool\u201d for Scaling Agile is important for delivery. However, that importance exists for all Agile delivery. The rigor behind managing a single centralized tool along with the reports to track progress and the level of success are the keys in improved delivery.\nConclusion\nFor those in front of the Agile delivery wave (and those who took the survey), nothing in the VersionOne report will come as a surprise. We have already seen it. The report is more of a set of lagging indicators for those falling behind to recognize their gaps and for those getting ahead to validate their advantage.\u00a0 Pave your own path through Agile delivery excellence!