Agile Software Development Hits Stride After Years of Evangelism

SPECIAL REPORT: With Agile software development offering fewer defects and faster time-to-delivery, more organizations are moving to this method of creating software.

The adoption of Agile software development practices is on the rise as enterprises have begun to see benefits from implementing Agile into their development shops.

However, the questions quickly become how much Agile actually pays off and even how much Agile is enough. The answers here are not so simple, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to Agile. Essentially, as many practitioners will tell you, it all depends. It depends on the goals of the organization, as well as the size, culture and geography of the organization, among other things.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of agile is "marked by ready ability to move with quick, easy grace" and "having a quick, resourceful and adaptable character." Agility is defined as "the quality or state of being agile."

Meanwhile, Wikipedia describes Agile software development this way: "Agile software development is a group of software development methods based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, a time-boxed iterative approach, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change. It is a conceptual framework that promotes foreseen interactions throughout the development cycle. The Agile Manifesto introduced the term in 2001."

VersionOne, which is known for its Agile project management tools, recently released the results of the seventh annual "State of Agile" survey, which shows Agile adoption on the rise. Sponsored by VersionOne, the survey polled 4,048 developers between August 9, 2012, and November 1, 2012. Ninety percent of respondents said implementing Agile improved their ability to manage changing priorities.

Moreover, more people are also seeing value in terms of project visibility when implementing Agile—84 percent, compared with 77 percent in 2011.

The survey also showed that organizations are continuing to scale Agile beyond single teams and single projects. The 2012 survey saw a 15 percent jump in the number of respondents who work where there are at least five Agile teams, and a 9 percent increase in those working with up to five Agile projects. In addition, overall Agile momentum is up; the number of respondents who said they plan to implement Agile development in future projects increased from 59 percent in 2011 to 83 percent in 2012. Most are using Scrum or Scrum variants (72 percent), as in past years. Kanban and its variants nearly doubled in 2012.