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Forrester Reports “Agile Development: Mainstream Adoption Has Changed Agility”

In their recently released study “Agile Development: Mainstream Adoption Has Changed Agility“, Forrester reports that “35% of respondents stated that Agile most closely reflects their development process”. The report is based on Forrester’s/Dr. Dobbs Global Developer Technographics Survey, Q3, 2009, which surveyed 1298 application development professionals.

In the past few years, Agile processes have not only gained increasing adoption levels; they have also rapidly joined the mainstream of development approaches. And while more organizations are adapting to Agile conventions, Agile is also adapting to the workplace. Perhaps the clearest sign of the mainstreaming of Agile is the abandonment of orthodoxy: Teams are puzzling out the mix of methodologies and combining them to fit within their organizational realities, blending Agile and non-Agile techniques and practices to create a hybrid methodology that fits larger organizations. Other changes, such as new team dynamics and the redefinition of roles such as the business analyst, show the genuine force behind Agile adoption. It’s time for software development professionals to stop sitting on the fence where Agile is concerned. According to those who have successfully adopted Agile, the benefits are well worth the effort, and with the recent dramatic increase in Agile adoption, the probability of working in or with an Agile team has increased for everyone.

The report looks at Agile Adoption from the following perspectives:

  • Agile Adoption Goes Mainstream
  • Teams Are Changing To Support Agility
  • What it means
  • Agile Becomes Mainstream — But Not Without Some Changes

And then offers a recommendation to get the most out of the transition: “App Dev Professionals Should Blend Agile Methods To Meet Their Own Needs“.

Agile methods encourage more-collaborative development than do traditional approaches, and many developers who have shied away from formal development methods in the past — believing them to be the province of “management” — have embraced Agile as a “formal” development process.

The report shows that of the various methodology, Scrum leads as the most adopted Agile methodology with 11% of the organizations reported using this approchach.  Other Agile approaches used are: Agile Modeling (6%), Feature-driven development – FDD (3.8%), Test-driven development – TDD (3.4%), eXtreme Programming – XP (2.9%), Lean development (2.1%), Microsoft Solutions Framework – MSF for Agile (1.8%), Agile Data Method (1.6%), Adaptive Software Development – ASD (1.3%), Six Sigma (0.9%), Crystal (0.3%), Behavior-driven development – BDD (0.2%) and Dynamic Systems Development Method – DSDM (0.2%).

When it comes to selecting an Agile methodology, Scrum is the overwhelming favorite – claiming it is simple, practical, and popular.

The report shows that when organizations select a development approach, they do so in the context of their organizational priorities and characteristics. Each organization carefully selects the approach that will best address their weaknesses rather than implementing Agile methodology for its own sake. In addition, participants considered the engineering processes to be critical to the success of the transition.

Teams do not usually implement all of these techniques simultaneously; even in the most mature Agile adoptions, teams pick the techniques that work best for them (…) This variation in the adoption of Agile components indicates that teams are more concerned with making sure they are working well together and producing high-quality software than with changing their software engineering process.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Agile’s entrance into the mainstream is the way that teams pragmatically mix methodologies. Instead of sticking strictly to a particular Agile orthodoxy, teams cherry-pick Agile methods, often including non-Agile techniques in the mix as well

Overall, the report clearly shows that organizations who have transitioned to an Agile approach use a pragmatic strategy and adapt the methodology that are best suited for their environment and context. While only 27% stick to a particular methodology, 63% mix different methodologies or mix Agile with non-Agile methodologies.

In conclusion

Agile adoption is a reality. Organizations across all industries are increasingly adopting Agile principles, and software engineers and other project team members are picking up Agile techniques. While historically, management has owned “process,” the adoption of Agile methods has pushed ownership into the hands of team members — many of whom have traditionally been skeptical of process and methodology. Broad Agile adoption requires careful consideration; a strong Agile adoption strategy should include:

  • A support plan. Adopting Agile practices is not a trivial change; it requires support and time to become effective. The use of external coaches, training materials, and internal support groups can greatly increase the speed and success of adoption.
  • Flexible adoption models. One size does not fit all.
  • A focus on team empowerment. It sounds really easy, but this is about more than just saying that teams are empowered.
  • A tool strategy. A single team in one location working alongside a customer may be able to work without any electronic tools, but as organizations scale and teams become more distributed and part of much larger releases, Agile methods benefit greatly from tools.

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