Scrum Still a Minority in Software Project Management

As Agile approaches like Scrum are supposed to be dominant for enterprise software project management, the latest Methods & Tools survey asked the following question: Which project management approach is used by your project? The results make us think that the situation is a little bit more complex than the generally accepted opinion.

Participants: 302
Ending date: April 2013
Source: Methods & Tools Software Development Magazine

It is always difficult to measure the rate of adoption of Agile as some might consider that doing iterative development with a daily stand-up will be enough to be qualified to be “Agile” and other (like me) thinks that there is more in Agile than this. If “pure” Agile approaches like Scrum are the most used by the participants to our survey, they are far to be adopted by a majority of the organization, even if we deduct the answers from people that adopt a “no project management” vision of software development.

In surveys conducted recently by VersionOne and Serena, around 50% of the participants seems to indicate that a majority of their projects are Agile. I would be however cautious with those numbers as they might be biased by the participants selection. The Serena survey was conducted at Agile 2012 conference and the VersionOne poll is promoted to their customers and through Agile web sites. Both surveys clearly indicate that Scrum is the leading Agile approach used.

An interesting perspective about this question is also presented by a recent Swiss survey that was conducted on two sets of participants: companies and IT professionals. In this case also, the number of participants that declared themselves Agile is also close to 50%. Surprisingly, the percentage of Agile practice is higher when you ask practitioners than companies. This might indicate that there are still a number of “under the radar” adoption tactics used by software development teams that don’t want to take the risk to “upset” their managers exposing some of the values and practices of Agile.

The integration of Agile software development in the company and with the business side is still a major concern. The VersionOne survey shows that Business Analysts and Product Owner are the less knowledgeable of Agile. The number of dedicated Product Owner in the same survey is 51%. In the Swiss survey, 25% of respondents had an onsite customer. Anyone saying “Garbage in, Garbage out”? At least the “Agile projects cannot fail” mantra that was often heard some years ago seems to have disappeared. In the VersionOne survey, less than 20% of the respondents declared that none of their Agile project failed.

The adoption of Agile, or at least Agile practices, is now wide in software development organizations. It seems however to be far from the strong majority that some claims and Agile is still facing the reality to be applied in organizations working in a “command and control” mode.


1. VersionOne Annual State of Agile Development Survey
2. Serena Agile Survey (PDF)
3. Swiss Agile Study 2012 (PDF)

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