How Can Human Values Be Addressed in Agile Methods? A Case Study on SAFe

02/24/2021
by   Waqar Hussain, et al.
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Agile methods are predominantly focused on delivering business values. But can Agile methods be adapted to effectively address and deliver human values such as social justice, privacy, and sustainability in the software they produce? Human values are what an individual or a society considers important in life. Ignoring these human values in software can pose difficulties or risks for all stakeholders (e.g., user dissatisfaction, reputation damage, financial loss). To answer this question, we selected the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), one of the most commonly used Agile methods in the industry, and conducted a qualitative case study to identify possible intervention points within SAFe that are the most natural to address and integrate human values in software. We present five high-level empirically-justified sets of interventions in SAFe: artefacts, roles, ceremonies, practices, and culture. We elaborate how some current Agile artefacts (e.g., user story), roles (e.g., product owner), ceremonies (e.g., stand-up meeting), and practices (e.g., business-facing testing) in SAFe can be modified to support the inclusion of human values in software. Further, our study suggests new and exclusive values-based artefacts (e.g., legislative requirement), ceremonies (e.g., values conversation), roles (e.g., values champion), and cultural practices (e.g., induction and hiring) to be introduced in SAFe for this purpose. Guided by our findings, we argue that existing Agile methods can account for human values in software delivery with some evolutionary adaptations.

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