Agile Survey Reveals Reasons behind Successes and Failures

Homer Simpson once famously, and hilariously, dubbed alcohol as being both “the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” It’s not often that a single entity can be both a cause and solution to a problem, but this can be found in agile when it comes to the people on an agile project. Depending on the culture of your workplace, your teams will likely be the sole reason for your project’s success or the painful cause of its failure.

Agile software developer VersionOne recently unveiled the results of their seventh annual State of Agile Development Survey where they polled more than four thousand agile practioners and coaches, product managers, IT operators, and others from North America and Europe. What’s the general consensus? Things couldn’t really be better for agile! Although, in the law of “continuous improvement,” I guess things could be a little better but not much.

  • Ninety percent of respondents said implementing agile improved their ability to manage changing priorities.
  • A majority of people use agile to accelerate time to market, and better align IT and business.
  • Eighty-three percent of those polled plan to implement agile on future projects.
  • Seventy-five percent of people said that their agile projects were successful.

When it comes to agile methodologies, Scrum received high praise in the survey with seventy-two percent of those polled preferring Scrum or a Scrum variant. Kanban was arguably just as popular with its usage doubling from 2011 to 2012.

No solution works for everyone or every project, but for those who took the survey who were not glowing about agile’s successes over the last year, it was the people—not the projects—that seemed to be the issue. In two-thirds of the cases where it was reported that agile failed, the cause was a “failure to integrate the right people or to teach a team-based culture.”

Misconceptions about agile have existed since the practice’s beginning. Some mistakenly believe that agile is easy and doesn’t require upfront planning. Others fail to accurately gauge the immense amount of effort sometimes needed to change existing cultures or methodologies.

VersionOne’s survey asked if agile practitioners could say one thing about agile to their company president, what would it be? The most popular response: “Give it time to succeed.”

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