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How does Agile Development Shape Up in 2006? The VersionOne Survey

by Deborah Hartmann Preuss on Oct 26, 2006 |
VersionOne Software, an Atlanta-based provider of enterprise project and lifecycle management solutions for agile development, this autumn conducted a global survey to highlight the value teams deliver using Agile software development.  The result is their "State of Agile Development" Survey Results, co-sponsored by The Agile Alliance.  The survey indicates that the key reasons people are adopting Agile are: managing changing requirements and priorities, and accelerating time-to-market.

Survey respondents come from companies of all sizes, from small and mid-sized organizations to the largest global corporations, and from every industry vertical, from financial services, health care, and education to video games, government, and defense. 

However, when compared with Scott Ambler's survey on Agile Practice earlier this year, the results seem to point out the difficulty of accurately capturing the general state of Agile "in the wild".  For example, these two surveys seem to contradict one another regarding adoption rates of XP and Scrum methodologies, though insufficient information is given to allow a strict comparison:

Scott Ambler's 2006       


VersionOne

None the less, many agree that adoption of these methods in general is on the increase, and not just in number of instances of adoption but also in terms of scale.  VersionOne CEO Robert Holler, in a podcast interview with Agile Journal said,
"[the responses to similar questions] 2 or 3 years ago would primarily would have been from small teams - we've seen an uptake in the size of teams adopting or considering adopting Agile... roughly a third of responses were from organizations of 250 or more. [size of software organization]."
Holler suspects that we're not yet nearing the end of this increase in adoption:
I think any time you're talking about a fundamental change in the way people do business, we're talking at least a double-digit time frame, at least ten years.  ...maybe five years ago it was primarily developer-led, and then two or three years ago, team-led, now we're seeing a lot of management- and project-management-led, and I think the future is going to be executive-led.
In fact, this survey seems to show that, in contrast to the early years of the Agile movement, Agile methods are now almost as likely to be championed by a member of senior management as by grass roots leaders like team leads and architects:
What role most closely identifies the initial champion of Agile development within your organization?
28% VP / Director of Development
18% Project Manager
13% Team Lead
11% President / CEO
7% Architect
5% CIO
5% Consultant
The full results of the survey are available online, as well as in a .pdf download, on the VersionOne site.

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A question we should, perhaps, be asking: by Deborah Hartmann

There's a question I don't see anyone asking on surveys yet: How many have "unadopted" Agile?

This might be difficult to ask on a survey - it's a retrospective-style question which is best asked in an open-ended manner: "What didn't work?" However, information about teams that either throw out Agile wholesale, tweak it beyond recognition, or no longer want to use the term Agile could be interesting, if we want to learn about what's happening with adoption.

deb

Re: A question we should, perhaps, be asking: by Warren Oliver

Deb,

That's an interesting thought. Maybe the questions should try and highlight how much teams value agile principles. For example, one question may be "Does your whole team sit together?" This might identify how teams value communication. Another question might be "How often do you deploy working software". This might identify how teams value delivery working software as opposed to documention. These questions might invoke an honest answer which would then give a deeper insight as to how agile teams really are.

Warren

Re: A question we should, perhaps, be asking: (take 2) by Warren Oliver

Lets try that again.

Deb,

That's an interesting thought. Maybe the questions should try and highlight how much teams value agile principles. For example, one question may be "Does your whole team sit together?". This might identify how teams value communication. Another question might be, "How often do you deploy working software?". This might identify how teams value delivering working software as opposed to documentation. These questions might invoke an honest answer which would then give a deeper insight as to how agile teams really are.

Warren

Re: A question we should, perhaps, be asking: by Scott Ambler

I would love to hear suggestions such as this for questions. I'm going to repeat my agile adoption survey in the new year and definitely intend to rework the questions. It will make comparisons difficult but I hope to get better quality data.

It's really hard to design a good survey, and an evolutionary approach is a good strategy in the long run.

- Scott
Practice Leader Agile Development, IBM Methods Group

Re: A question we should, perhaps, be asking: by Deborah Hartmann

Note: there's further conversation on this subject at the ScrumDev list
groups.yahoo.com/group/scrumdevelopment/message...

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