Has Agile Lost its Soul?

September 29, 2008

VersionOne has published raw results for the 3rd Annual State of the Agile Survey that was conducted in June and July 2008. Answers were received from 3061 participants in 80 countries. Participants working in agile projects are satisfied: they think that agile achieves a very good overall project success rate. They see improvements in productivity, quality and maintainability. Scrum or a Scrum+XP hybrid solution are the main approaches used. The objectives are to achieve shorter iterations and accelerate time-to-market. The mostly used practices are continuous integration and iteration planning. In the least used practices, you find on-site customer and pair programming

These results seems to tell us is that agile could be applied by organisations more like a new version of the RAD method of the 90s: a project management approach with short iteration that relies on smart people and increased automation to deliver software faster. We should not forget however that the second sentence of the Agile Manifesto starts with “Through this work we have come to value: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”. Collaboration inside and outside the software development team is one of the main idea behind the Agile manifesto.

Does the fact that the practices linked to collaboration are the least implemented tells us that Agile has lost its soul to achieve a higher adoption rate? Change is always difficult, especially if it deals with organisational culture or personal behaviour. Agile adoption has to face the reality that developers are mostly introverted people. End-users often don’t think that developing software is a high priority or they cannot take more time for software projects, because they have a business to run. Is this bad? No. All approaches aims for a “perfect” execution context, whether it means to be 100% agile or that you can freeze requirements ;o) What we have to keep in mind is that creating this ideal context is difficult. It is therefore more important to cleverly adapt than blindly adopt. If developers (and users) think that project is successful, then a discussion about the “purity” of the approach used is meaningless.

Full data of the VersionOne survey

More than 500 Links in SoftDevLinks.com

September 12, 2008

SoftDevLinks.com is a new general directory for software developers, testers and managers. Launched in June, it has achieved in September more than 500 links. If you have a blog, a web site, distribute a tool or work a consulting company related to software development, do not hesitate to add (for free) your links in this directory.


Third Annual State of Agile Survey Data Available

September 4, 2008

This survey was conducted and sponsored by VersionOne in June and July 2008. It received answers from 3061 participants in 80 countries; most of them (70%) were participating to the survey for the first time. The majority of the respondents were agile team leaders, coach or consultants. This could lead to a bias towards a perhaps slightly more optimistic vision of the reality of agile projects. Whether they are agile or not, managers stay managers ;o)

The survey doesn’t try to measure agile adoption, but it gives interesting information on how agile is adopted. A majority (55%) of the participants works in rather small organizations with less than 100 people involved in software development. For most of them agile is also relatively new, as only 34% of the companies have been practicing agile for more than 2 years. The percentage that has adopted agile in the previous year is 36%. We could see that adoption is often partial in software development organizations as 65% of the participants use agile in less than 50% of their projects. Full adoption is realized in 17% of the companies, a similar number that was found by a Methods & Tools survey conducted at the end of 2007.

Scrum is the most followed agile methodology. Amongst the practices, iteration planning, unit testing, daily standup, release planning and continuous integration were adopted by more than 2/3 of respondents. Surprisingly, pair programming, an emblematic practice of the XP approach, is ranked near the bottom of practices adopted with only around 31% of adopters. On-site customer is also poorly adopted. This shows that practices concerning people interactions seem to be the most difficult to implement, as people are the most difficult elements to change in software development processes.

An interesting question deals with the rate of success for agile projects. For 55% of the participants, close to 100% of agile projects are successful. On the other side, 24% estimate than one project out of two fails, mainly due to conflicts between the company culture and agile values or because of the lack of experience with agile approaches. A final part of the report gives interesting information about the tools used in agile projects. We can see that agile and traditional tools are currently used at the same level to manage projects.

Version One Survey Data

Methods & Tools Survey

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