Agile Development Hitting the Mainstream, Report Says

A study by Forrester Research suggests enterprises are rapidly moving to adopt Agile application development methodologies, to the point where nearly half of developers surveyed said they use Agile practices.

Forrester Research has announced the findings of a recent study showing that enterprises are rapidly moving to adopt Agile development methodologies.

Indeed, nearly half (45 percent) of the almost 1,300 developers and IT professionals surveyed said they use Agile methods.

In the executive summary of the Forrester study, released Jan. 20, analyst and report co-writer Dave West said development 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."

Added West:

""In our recent Forrester/Dr. Dobbs Global Developer Technographics Survey, Q3 2009, 35 percent of respondents stated that Agile most closely reflects their development process, with the number increasing to 45 percent if you expand what you include in Agile's definition. Both waterfall and iterative approaches are giving ground to much lighter, delivery-focused methods based on the principles the Agile Manifesto describes. The older methods are not disappearing, however: 34 percent of the survey respondents stated that they continue to use either an iterative or waterfall development process as their primary method of software delivery.""

As Wikipedia puts it, "Agile software development refers to a group of software development methodologies based on iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams." The Agile Manifesto is "a statement of the principles that underpin Agile software development."

According to the Forrester study, entitled, "Agile Development: Mainstream Adoption Has Changed Agility," the Scrum method of Agile development was the most popular of the Agile methods, with 10 percent of developers surveyed saying they used Scrum. West said many Agile practitioners have adopted Scrum for three reasons: Scrum is simple, Scrum is practical and Scrum is popular.

The breakdown for other Agile methods was as follows:

"Agile Modeling 6 percent, feature-driven development (FDD) 3.8 percent, test-driven development (TDD) 3.4 percent, eXtreme Programming (XP) 2.9 percent, Lean development 2.1 percent, Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) for Agile 1.8 percent, Agile Data Method 1.6 percent, Adaptive Software Development (ASD) 1.3 percent, Six Sigma 0.9 percent, Crystal 0.3 percent, behavior-driven development (BDD) 0.2 percent, Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) 0.2 percent."

In addition, 21 percent of developers surveyed said they used iterative methods, such as iterative development, coming in at 16.3 percent, RUP (Rational Unified Process) at 2.7 percent and Spiral development at 1.6 percent. Meanwhile, waterfall-style methods accounted for 13 percent of developers, with the traditional waterfall method at 8.4 percent, CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) at 2.5 percent and ISO 9000 also at 2.5 percent.

Still, the largest single category of developers in the survey was the 30.6 percent who said they do not use a formal process methodology.

When moving to Agile development, in addition to a support plan, flexible adoption models and a focus on team empowerment, organizations need a tools strategy, West said.

Spelling it out in the report, West wrote:

""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. Teams should look to Agile application life-cycle management (ALM) tools that manage backlogs, support planning, and enable reporting to support their Agile approach." "