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Agile is for Real, Says Forrester

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A new study by Forrester Research showed that nearly half of its developer and IT professional respondents use agile methods.  The study is indicative of the increasing level of agile evangelism and enterprise adoption.  If these numbers are an accurate representation of the developer landscape, it is a serious accomplishment for the agile consultants of the world who have fought against heavy resistance and succeeded at converting large numbers of workers to their methods for better development.

The survey polled almost 1,300 developers and IT professionals and about 900 used a formal methodology.  Conducted in Q3 2009, the survey found that 35% of the respondents said their development workflow could best be described as agile.  The number was 45% "if you expand what you include in Agile's definition," said Forrester.  Analysts said that the study showed lighter, delivery-focused methods based on the Agile Manifesto are starting to outpace waterfall and iterative approaches.  However, these older approaches are still hanging on with 34% of respondents saying that they used waterfall or iterative processes.

Scrum was the most popular agile method with 10% of the respondents saying they used it.  Here are the statistics for the other methodologies (out of all the respondents):

  • Agile Modeling - 6%
  • Feature-Driven Development (FDD) - 3.8%
  • Test-Driven Development (TDD) - 3.4%
  • eXtreme Programming - 2.9%
  • Lean development - 2.1%
  • Microsoft Solutions Framework for Agile - 1.8%
  • Agile Data Method - 1.6%
  • Adaptive Software Development - 1.3%
  • Six Sigma - 0.9%
  • Crystal - 0.3%
  • Behavior-Driven Development - 0.2%
  • Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) - 0.2%

21% of developers said that they used iterative methods.  Here is the breakdown for iterative methods:

  • Iterative Development - 16.3%
  • Rational Unified Process (RUP) - 2.7%
  • Spiral Development - 1.6%

Waterfall style methods accounted for 13% of developers.  8.4% used traditional waterfall, 2.5% used CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration), and 2.5% used ISO 9000.

The 30.6% of developers who don't use a formal methodology remained the single largest category, but agile methodologies as a whole still came out on top.  20% of the developers using agile said that it's a key part of their success.  Only 12% of the developers using iterative methods and 8% of those using waterfall could say the same.  Only 2% of the agile developers said that their methodology creates a lot of "busywork," which is great compared waterfall.  27% of the developers using waterfall thought there was significant busywork.

Some developers will never embrace agile, and in some cases there's no need to do so.  Every time a company benefits from an agile conversion, the success story becomes another strong advertisement for agile development.  As agile continues to move further into the mainstream, the momentum of agile methodologies becomes harder and harder for non-adopters to resist.


Craig Doremus replied on Tue, 2010/01/26 - 3:41pm

What's surpising to me is how little TDD is being used -- according to this survey -- because TDD is a cornerstone of agile development.

Franz Allan See replied on Wed, 2010/01/27 - 11:50am in response to: Craig Doremus

Cornerstone of agile development? - Im not sure about that. There's no mention of TDD in the Agile Manifesto. However, it is a very common agile pratice regardless of Agile flavor :-) ..And with that being said, I agree with you that I am also preplexed why TDD's adoption is really low.  ..hmm...but then again, it's one of the hardest things to sell as well :-)

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