Allan Kelly has held just about every job in the software world, from sys admin to development manager. Today he provides training and coaching to teams in the use of Agile and Lean techniques. He is the author of "Changing Software Development: Learning to become Agile" (2008) and "Business Patterns for Software Developers" (2012) and a frequent conference speaker. Allan is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 85 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile
The BIG question came up the other week during my presentation to HP: “How many organizations are doing Agile?”
As I said at the time: Thats the $64,000 question - or perhaps in todays money, $64,000,000,000.
course, it depends a lot on how you even define “Agile”. Sure if your
following everything Kent Beck says in the XP books your probably Agile.
But in most places adoption is patchy, a bit of TDD here, some
iterations there - stand up meetings seem to be very common now but one
practice does not an Agile team make.
Within organizations Agile
exists in some places and not in others. There is a large Swiss bank in
London which has one of the best Agile teams in the country - well, at
least it contains many of the best Agile people in the country.
I said, Its a LARGE bank. I met someone from elsewhere in the bank at a
BBQ last week. The very mention of Agile upset him. His team claimed
to be doing Scrum but it didn’t sound anything like the Scrum I know -
requirements changed everyday.
“What is Agile” is big question in its own right, maybe we’ll come back to it another day. Back to the original question.
course we don’t know how many of those Scrum Masters are practicing,
how many work with multiple teams and how many unofficial Scrum Masters
there. Neither do we know how many other teams there are so knowing how many Scrum Masters there are doesn’t help.
In late 2006 Gartner issued a report (“Agile Development: Fact or Fiction”)
which estimated less than 5% of development groups were doing Agile.
If think its reasonable to assume more teams are doing it now.
heard from a developer who was looking for a new job in Moscow recently
that about 1 in 10 companies claimed to be Agile. That would make it
10% of companies, or 10% of teams.
To get an idea of the UK
market I did a series of searches on two job boards: JobServe.com and
Monster.co.uk. I searchied for all jobs asking for Java, C# and C++
then I repeated the searches for the same languages with Agile.
Monster.co.uk Jobs % of Agile Java 501
Java and Agile 68 13.5% C# 411
C# and Agile 67 16.3% C++ 1686
C++ and Agile 19 1.1%
was quite surprised by the results for C++ here, but if you want to
work Agile you are going to have to look hard for an Agile C++ shop.
Another surprise, especially for C++, is that different jobs boards
might be better for different languages (I’ll leave that thought for
someone else to follow up.)
JobServe.com Jobs % of Agile Java 1077
Java and Agile 135 12.5% C# 960
C# and Agile 127 13.2% C++ 705
C++ and Agile 51 7.2%
while there are fewer C# jobs than Java jobs the percentage of jobs
asking for Agile is similar. So bang goes the theory that there is more
Agile Java than Agile C#.
These are very crude counts, I made no
attempt to adjust for duplicates (which certainly exist), location
the Java searches. (I suspect not because the number of Java jobs is
not so far ahead of C# jobs.)
It is worth pointing out that, in
general, only those jobs which are difficult to fill get listed so these
stats are not representative of the job market as a whole.
there seems to be a cluster around 13%. If we ignore the highest and
lowest results the answer is between 7.2% and 13.5%. Which isn’t far
from that Moscow report.
Certainly there will be teams who are
asking for Agile but don’t do Agile. For some teams they may be looking
for Agile developers in the hope that they bring Agile into the
For me one of the tests of Agile is: Is it working?
your development is not effective then I don’t think you are Agile.
You might be following a process called Scrum, XP, DSDM or something
else but if your team is not effective then you are not filling the
business need and you aren’t Agile. How can you be Agile if you are
To be Agile you must be effective.
is a little sneaky of me because I am equating Agile with success. It
also means the questions “How many people are doing Scrum?” is different
to “How many people are doing Agile?” but lets leave that to one side.)
Back to my favourite study from Bain Consulting (The Alignment Trap)
which estimated that only about 15% of organizations had effective IT.
Now not all these IT groups are doing software development and some
will be effective without Agile.
But, if we put those two
statements together we get 15% as the upper bound of adoption. That is:
at most 15% of oranizations are effective, therefore at most 15% of
organizations are Agile. (If they are not effective they cannot be
None of this data is conclusive, or definative, but I think it does give us a range:
Between 5% and 15% of all software development is done using Agile software development.
It its worth pointing out that both a high number and a low number is good.
more companies adopt Agile the safer it is to adopt. The more
companies adopt it the more mainstream it is and the more reason to
But, while only a few companies are working Agile there
is a real competitive advantage in companies adopting it. If your
company can produce software in a fraction of the time, or with a
fraction of the people of your rivals then your onto a good thing.
is a risk reward ratio. If you wait until its adopted by 80% of the
industry there won’t be an advantage. You’ll be playing catch up.
Given that, the 5-15% range is probably good news. Its common enough to be safe but rear enough to be advantagous.