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Report: Agile Leads Resurgence of Corporate Dev Projects

After a couple of years of reduced spending, companies are once more investing in application development projects, and Agile methodologies are leading the way, according to new research.

"Organizations adopting Agile see significant improvement in application quality and time-to-market," stated the executive summary of a survey titled "The State of Business Analysis in Agile IT Practices," conducted by a group headed by the Requirements.net Consortium.

The survey data was leveraged in a broader research report -- the 2010-11 World Quality Report -- that stated "over 60 percent of all companies have either already adopted Agile methods or they are planning to do so in the near future." The report, produced by Capgemini Group and HP Software & Solutions, culled data from a survey of more than 30,000 IT and development-related staffers around the globe, focusing on quality assurance and testing.

The World Quality report said most companies are still only experimenting with Agile, using it on certain specific projects, which allows them to identify development and testing best practices that work in their environment before switching everything over to Agile.

Companies that had to reduce spending last year are now devoting limited resources to focus on new app development with good ROI that provide a competitive advantage, the report said. The penny-pinching causes developers and testers to assume heavier workloads and the increased pressure requires more efficient methods, such as "better reuse of automated testing assets," it said.

The biggest challenges to successfully adopting Agile, the report said, are good communication and collaboration among teams. In fact, communication was noted as the No. 1 factor that keeps organizations from outsourcing their development.

That Requirements.net report also cited collaboration as a major stumbling block to successfully switch to Agile development. Specifically, it listed six problematic issues: large project team sizes, domain complexity, rigid interdepartmental relationships, global geographic distribution, technical complexity and contractual departmental service level agreements. The report used data from a survey of more than 300 IT professionals, focusing on the business analyst role and requirements process in Agile development.

The report cited the following majority responses to specific questions:

  • 88 percent plan to use tools in Agile development.
  • 55 percent plan to make use of offshore development in conjunction with Agile.
  • 56 percent indicated "having business actively involved" as the top "soft skill" to best ensure Agile success.
  • 29 percent said "quicker realization of vision" was the No. 1 IT project plan benefit.
  • 46 percent said product owner and Scrum master were the best Agile roles to combine into one.
  • 37 percent said requirements that were "too high-level" were the biggest hurdles to producing high-quality products with Agile.
  • 40 percent said IT management was the most difficult stakeholder category to transition to Agile.

The World Quality report listed the following majority responses:

  • 81 percent said new development was the main area where Agile is being applied (followed by large projects, Web technologies, client/server technologies and maintenance).
  • 37 percent said time-to-market was the top area where Agile made improvements (followed by quality of application and cost savings).
  • 43 percent said communication issues were the biggest challenge when working with outsourced partners for Agile delivery.

"Despite many challenges, Agile is here to stay, and it is gaining popularity," the report said. Agility is also spreading out from core application development to other areas. "Along with improved agility in software delivery, IT organizations are aiming to gain agility in their applications an infrastructure," the report said.

Both the full 40-page World Quality report and the 20-page Requirements.net report can be downloaded in PDF formats upon registration.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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