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2011 State of Agile Survey Results Show Agile Adoption Stable

by Craig Smith on Feb 21, 2012 |

VersionOne have recently released the results of their State of Agile Development Survey for 2011, and as always it gives an interesting insight into Agile adoption and trends.

This year we saw further evidence that Agile is not a fad. More than half our respondents said they've personally practiced Agile for over 2 years, and one-third have carried Agile with them to another company. Almost two-thirds of respondents said that up to half of their company's projects were run using Agile, and that their company has adopted Agile practices across three or more teams.

Scrum remained the most popular Agile method in use by 52% of respondents (compared to 58% in 2010):

52% Scrum
14% Scrum/XP Hybrid
9% Custom Hybrid
8% Don't Know
17% Other (including Kanban 3% and XP 2%)

Matt Badgley in a recent post pondered the "don't know" methodology:

The first thought I had is training...  if the team has not been trained on what agile is, and the surrounding methods and processes, then I can understand when you ask them, “Do you do agile?” … “Yes.” “What agile method do you use?” … “I don’t know.” ...The second reason I can think of why folks answered, “Don’t Know” is that they are leveraging multiple concepts from the various agile methodologies – including agile project management and traditional project management... Teams are starting with one method and morphing to another, and in some cases leveraging a little bit from everything.  This approach can be good and bad, depending on the maturity of the team and the ability to continuously improve.

In relation to Agile techniques, Daily Standup, Iteration Planning and Unit Testing were the most popular (as they were last year):

78% Daily Standup
74% Iteration Planning
70% Unit Testing
65% Release Planning
64% Burndown
64% Retrospectives
54% Continuous Integration
53% Automated Builds
52% Velocity
51% Coding Standards

Simon Baker dissected the Agile techniques result in a post on his Agile in Action blog, particularly as practices like refactoring (48%), test driven development (38%), automated acceptance testing (25%) and behavior driven development (9%) were so low:

Taking the data on face value I might deduce that a lot of bad software is being written out there and much of this thing called Agile is about process. Anyone remember something about people over process? Anyway, I wonder how much of that bad software actually delivers value to customers with a total cost of ownership that makes it a business asset? There will hopefully come a time when more people will realize that being agile is about being able to respond to changing business needs quickly, affordably and with little risk.

Whilst the largest number of survey participants reported that none of their agile projects failed (16%), some of the leading causes were cited as:

11% Lack of experience with Agile methods
11% Lack of understanding of broader organization change required
9% Company philosophy or culture at odds with Agile values
8% External pressure for waterfall

The barriers to further Agile adoption included:

52% Ability to change organizational culture
40% Availability of personnel with right skills
39% General resistance to change

Dave Moran shared his thoughts on the barriers in a post on his Software Results blog:

These barriers and concerns reflect what we all understand: that change is hard. And agile development is change. As I interpret the survey, the actual benefits obtained are consistent with what you would expect during an agile adoption. These are the quicker, easier wins. Improved team morale was the fourth benefit obtained from implementing agile, another benefit that should result from an agile adoption.

The survey showed that 75% of respondents felt that time to completion was the same or faster than previous approaches (down from 83% in 2010). The leading benefits from implementing Agile included:

84% Ability to manage changing priorities
77% Improved project visibility
75% Increased productivity
72% Improved team morale
71% Faster time-to-market

The full results are available from the VersionOne website (you can also access the results from 2010 as well). Are there any results in this years survey that standout, or is the survey showing that Agile adoption is flattening out? 

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3% Kanban? by Michael Dubakov

I personally can't believe in 3% of Kanban. Why is that? My feeling is that Kanban should have at least 10-15%.

Re: 3% Kanban? by Craig Smith

I must admit that surprised me too. I originally thought it might have been hidden in one of the hybrids, but they seem low as well. I do wonder if those answering the survey might be removed from those actually delivering.

Re: 3% Kanban? by Klaus Stake

@Michael Dubakov: I don't think that VersionOne's survey is representative. I wonder who gave feedback. Mainly VersionOne customers? Or potential customers who have been in contact with VersionOne once? I can imagine that only 3% of VersionOne's codebase use Kanban. Personally I also belive that there are more organizations using Kanban.

Re: 3% Kanban? by luke w

Agree with Michael above that only 3% seems very low for KanBan, interesting to see Scrum took 6% less of the share this time too. Looking forward to a couple of years in the future when we can get these reports together and produce a meaningful graph of trends.

Luke Winter
Community Manager
www.onedesk.com

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