Title: Agility in a small software firm: a sense-and-respond analysis

Authors: Thomas Schmidt, Lars Mathiassen

Addresses: The Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark. ' J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Center for Process Innovation, Georgia State University, P.O. Box 4015, Atlanta, GA 30302-4015, USA

Abstract: Small software firms are vulnerable to environmental uncertainty. While agile methods and other technologies offer suggestions to this challenge, we know little about how these firms combine project and firm level capabilities to effectively respond to changes. On this backdrop, we examine a small Danish software firm, TeachTech Inc., through the lens of Haeckel|s sense-and-respond approach. Our analysis suggests that: the firm has appropriate sense-and-respond cycles, but improving process modularity and human resource flexibility, could increase its ability to respond faster and more effectively; the firm focuses on specific business goals, but these are not clearly explicated and expressed as empowering governing values enabling a quick and coordinated response; complex and demanding challenges are related to dynamically reassigning commitments and the supporting mechanisms are insufficient; a modularised product portfolio leverage some of the impeding restrictions. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for theory and practice.

Keywords: software development; agility; sense-and-respond approach; small firms; Denmark; process modularity; modular products; human resource flexibility; agile systems.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBIS.2009.021604

International Journal of Business Information Systems, 2009 Vol.4 No.1, pp.85 - 104

Published online: 30 Nov 2008 *

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