Agile Software Development: 5 Keys to Success
Bask in Agile's Bright Light, but Don't Be a Moth to a Flame
Every software movement since the days of punch cards (or pre-Internet/pre-smartphone, for younger people) has had its share of acolytes, many of whom over-rotated on a good idea, upset existing processes and flirted with business disaster, all for wholesale, seemingly magical technical improvement. Some of these characteristics fit the agile movement's most fervent supporters, who urge developers to abandon everything in favor of sudden, complete change. This camp is well-intentioned but naive—existing applications that now run the backbone of businesses can't simply be swept away like 40 years of accumulated detritus.
If agile is the answer, what exactly is the question, Forrester Research asked in a September 2012 report entitled "Agile Software Development and the Factors That Drive Success," a study the market research firm did for Hewlett-Packard. If you believe that agile software development is raining success on all of its acolytes, you're mistaken, Forrester said: "Agile software development is more akin to a hammer and a chisel: The quality and desirability of the products it yields depends on the experience and talent of the craftspeople wielding the tools." Forrester also said the digital revolution continues to destroy firms that don't anticipate market shifts quickly enough to leverage new opportunities and avoid pitfalls. The need for business agility is driving the agile movement in software development—and continuous improvement is at the heart of the movement. Forrester surveyed 112 IT professionals and came out with several key findings, including that agile tenets and techniques help the best firms get better. Forrester analysts also found that there is more to "success" with agile than implementing a few tenets and techniques. Most firms also still have a long way to go to become more agile. This eWEEK slide show lists the key recommendations from Forrester.