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State of Agile in 2015? VersionOne's annual survey is optimistic

VersionOne's 10th annual survey shows Agile methodologies are widely deployed, including increasingly in enterprises, and in Europe and Asia. Meet the new, mature Agile.

For the 10th year in a row, VersionOne Inc. has released its State of Agile survey, and it's clear the Agile development...

methodology is maturing.

Although Agile isn't quite at the "business as usual" stage, it's close. An impressive 95% of the 3,800 users surveyed last year said their companies are employing Agile, and 24% of them work in companies with over 20,000 people -- a 3% increase over 2014. That's a sign that Agile, once a staple of small companies and startups, is finding a niche in the enterprise.

What's driving that enterprise adoption? The same three things that have been named over the past five State of Agile surveys: the ability to manage changing priorities, increased team productivity and improved project visibility.

But Stephen Elliot, a vice president at IDC, has a somewhat different take. "The reality is the developing side of the business budget is getting a lot of attention today," he explained. "What that means is companies have to optimize."

"With more and more tech budgets being decided by business managers, the name of the game is optimization. And I think the reality is that any executive has to be thinking, 'How do I optimize, how do I organize, and how do I drive more and more business impact?' There's an acceptance that Agile is the proven optimization methodology. It's not perfect, but certainly works pretty well if you put the time and training and focus on it. Agile delivers a lot of what execs need to have optimization today."

Agile delivers a lot of what execs need to have optimization today.
Stephen Elliotvice president at IDC

In the companies that are already employing Agile, 85% have at least "some" distributed teams -- a huge jump from three years ago, when only 35% could say the same thing. Elliot said he's not surprised. "It's like planting seeds. Roots are put down, and then things start to spread. The more people using it and exposed to it are driving other people to try it," he said. And with all the attention DevOps is getting -- many call DevOps Agile 2.0 -- he said he can see executives thinking they should really try to make their existing Agile efforts work before they move on to the next stage.

And speaking of stages, the State of Agile survey showed early-stage adopters accounted for 33% of Agile deployments, while 17% self-identified as "mature adopters." Only 1% of respondents said Agile had failed their company.

And it certainly doesn't hurt that 63% of the respondents said they were either "very knowledgeable" or "extremely knowledgeable" about Agile development practices.

And while U.S. adoptions of Agile are still dominant at 56% last year, it's becoming increasingly popular in Europe: 26% of respondents worked in European countries -- up from 21% in 2014. All told, 11% of the respondents were from Asia.

And when State of Agile survey takers were asked exactly how they "do" Agile, the responses weren't particularly surprising. The top five Agile techniques included the daily standup (83%), prioritized backlogs (82%), short iterations (79%), retrospectives (74%) and iteration planning (69%).

And when Agile does fail, 46% blamed the "company culture or philosophy" for being diametrically opposed to what the development methodology represents. Other reasons for failure included lack of experience, lack of management support and lack of support for a cultural transition.

Next Steps

How to keep from diluting your Agile efforts

Can we still stand behind the Manifesto?

Compare Agile and DevOps -- do we have a winner?

Dig Deeper on Agile Software Development (Agile, Scrum, Extreme)

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