Adopting Agile: The Latest Reports About The Popular Mindset

adopting agile

Can adopting agile be a challenge? Of course. Will the benefits be multiple? Most likely.  

When Christine created her tech startup for waste management and recycling, she and the team decided to follow the Waterfall methodology. Separate focus teams were formed for design, build, test, and deploy. Unfortunately, they soon began to notice a number of defects. Deadlines were often missed, people were working overtime, and the financial loss was substantial.

After three years of unsuccessful management, they switched to the Scaled Agile Framework. What they experienced, only months after the adoption of the new method of project management, was teams that could effectively cooperate together, a decrease in critical and major defects, no more overtime, and a product delivered on time.

A large number of companies are following Christine’s switch from the traditional Waterfall management to the agile mindset. The practice is today globally used, and its loyal practitioners regard it as highly successful and efficient.

Whether the shift is toward Scrum or Kanban, the Agile mindset is now spreading rapidly to all types of organizations to help them develop their product, as timely and as productively as possible. The rise in fame is due to the discovery by companies that the only way to cope with the turbulent customer-driven marketplace is by adopting Agile. In a world that’s highly competitive, complex, and uncertain, Agile can help businesses flourish and stay relevant.

But how popular Agile truly is? What have companies learned through their experience? What are the most commonly used agile methodologies and tools? Let’s take a closer look at the most recent reports and studies regarding the state of agile.

Benefits of Agile

The traditional “Waterfall” methodology has slowly been losing its popularity. Why? Because the agile mindset has proven to be more useful for software development. To those companies that aren’t hesitant to adopt the method, agile development will surely bring an array of benefits.  

According to a report by Planview, some of the major benefits of adopting agile are:

  • It changes the way organizations work. The agile method introduces a new way of thinking and working. Unlike the waterfall approach which is highly linear, the agile method proposes flexibility and team-based approach to development.
  • It creates more productive ways of working. Instead of creating tasks and schedules, work is divided into various phases called “sprints.” Each sprint usually lasts for a few weeks, and team members follow a running list of deliverables. When the sprint ends, all work can be reviewed and evaluated by the project team.
  • There’s faster and more regular feedback. As agile teams don’t work from development plans that are reviewed once every few months, they need to provide results within weeks. As work is reviewed more often, there’s room for faster and more regular feedback from the project manager and the customer. What’s more, this also offers an opportunity to make the needed corrections and deliver a product the customer will like.
  • It encourages knowledge sharing. During each sprint, team members can learn something new and share information as they make progress. The agile method is a collaborative process and offers an opportunity for growth and close contact with colleagues. There’s also constant feedback from the customer which reduces the chances of delivering an inferior product.
  • It can lead to higher revenue. Thanks to the constant feedback, knowledge sharing between team members, and time-boxed sprints, the company has greater chances of accumulating higher revenue from product sales.

Reasons for Adopting Agile

One of the longest-running reports on agile software development is The State of Agile. In April 2018, the 12th report got published that explored the usage of agile practices and the most used agile methodologies.

The report also investigated the significant reasons for adopting agile, and this is what it discovered:

  • 75% of companies said that accelerated software delivery is their #1 reason for adopting agile.
  • 64% said that the enhanced ability to manage changing priorities is what made them choose agile.
  • 55% listed “increased productivity” as their primary reason.
  • 49% stated that an improved business/IT alignment was their main reason.
  • 46% chose the agile method because of the enhanced software quality.
  • Another surprising fact is that 17% of companies chose the agile method to improve the management of distributed teams. This is an indication that companies are deciding to apply the agile method remotely.
reasons for adopting agile

75% of companies said that accelerated software delivery is their #1 reason for adopting agile.

The Most Commonly Used Agile Methodologies

The State of Agile report also explored the most commonly used agile methodologies among software development teams. The agile Scrum methodology is by far the most widely used among teams. However, this method also has its weaknesses. To make up for the shortcomings in Scrum, a large number of companies are also using other Agile methodologies, or a hybrid of methods to reach success.

  • 56% of teams use the Scrum methodology. They like using Scrum because it divides complicated tasks into user stories and visualizes them on a workflow.
  • 14% of teams use a Hybrid. This is a combination of multiple agile methodologies.
  • 8% of teams use ScrumBan. Scrumban is a popular hybrid of Scrum and Kanban.
  • 6% use Scrum/XP Hybrid. These are two agile processes that work well together.
  • 5% of teams use the Kanban method. Kanban teams use a visual planning tool, the kanban board, that shows each project on a card. The cards are moved through columns as the project progresses.
adopting agile : the Scrum methodology
56% of teams use the Scrum methodology.

Scrum Statistics You Should Know About

Companies that are searching for an all-encompassing framework to implement the Agile mindset, often choose the Scrum framework. The reason for Scrum’s popularity is its capability to help teams move and learn faster. Although standalone Scrum is used by 56% of teams, if you calculate the hybrid methodologies that include it, Scrum is used by 83% of companies.

The State of Scrum 2017-2018 explored the growth of Scrum, its success rate, and reasons for adopting the framework, among others. The report is based on a survey of nearly 2,000 Scrum and Agile practitioners, members of the Scrum Alliance.

According to the report’s findings:

  • 94% of respondents are using Scrum in their agile practice. Out of that 94%, 78% use Scrum with other frameworks, and 16% use Scrum exclusively.
  • Regarding team size, the average size of a Scrum team is 7 members.
  • The average length of a Sprint is 2.4 weeks, while the average duration of a Scrum project is 11.6 weeks.
  • In regards to certification, the top certification in 2017 was the certificate for ScrumMaster. Nearly 85% of respondents received certification for ScrumMaster and chose it for its significant financial benefits. Moreover, 40% of them got a Product Owner Certification, and 24% got certified as Scrum Coaches.
  • The majority of companies today provide various types of training, the most common being online training and in-house training.
adopting agile : scrum statistics

Challenges Implementing Scrum

What do all Scrum teams have in common? They all have to deal with the same difficulties of implementing Scrum. From troubles with organizational design culture to transitioning from traditional Waterfall, there are important considerations that should be addressed before the implementation.

The State of Scrum 2017-2018 found that:

  • Organizational design culture makes it difficult for adopting agile and scaling (51%).
  • Teams struggle to transition from traditional Waterfall (44%).
  • No clearly defined metrics to identify and measure success are another challenge (41%).
  • Alignment with other projects in a portfolio is a major issue (40%).
  • Teams also struggle with a lack of trust (38%).
  • Another challenge is the lack of enthusiasm by team members and Product Owners (34%).

Agile Scaling Methods and Approaches

To get insights into the fast-evolving Agile landscape, cPrime conducted a survey that included more than 5,000 respondents. The findings of the study show that among the Agile Scaling Frameworks, SAFe is by far the most popular. The second most widely used framework is Scrum of Scrums, while third in popularity is the custom-made framework.

The stats are the following:

  • SAFe is among the most used agile scaling methods and approaches (45%). It’s a set of organization and workflow patterns that help companies in scaling lean and agile practices.
  • Scrum of Scrums is second on the list with 22.1% of respondents using this scaling method. This method is used when multiple teams are working on a project. Its goal is to help teams collaborate and coordinate their work.
  • 13.3% of respondents use a custom-made scaling method for their agile project.
  • Fourth in popularity is the LeSS framework, preferred by 4.4% of respondents.
adopting agile : agile scaling methods

SAFe is among the most used agile scaling methods and approaches (45%).

Use of Agile Project Management Tools

In addition to agile scaling methods, cPrime also surveyed the respondents about agile project management tools. These tools are crucial to running agile projects and keeping teams aligned of each stage of the development process. Teams can choose between an array of agile project management tools that are suitable for various industries and teams of all sizes. These tools can be of great help in creating and arranging tasks, setting out priorities, and releasing great software.

Here are some stats:

  • 61.8% of respondents said they use Atlassian’s products, JIRA and Confluence.
  • 34.7% said they use Spreadsheets to help them with their tasks.
  • 21.8% said their preferred choice of an agile project management tool is the Microsoft Team Foundation Server.
  • 20.4% use Google Docs as agile project management tool.
  • 18.7% prefer using Rally to help them track and release great software.
  • 9.8% of respondents said their favorite agile project management tool is VersionOne.  

Conclusion

Companies that still cling on to the waterfall management will be disappointed to hear that this traditional approach is slowly becoming part of history. The leading player is Agile, and this research only confirms that it won’t be going down anytime soon.

Every agile team, ScrumMaster, or Product Owner that is assigned with the task to deliver a state-of-the-art software to their customer will significantly benefit from reading this research. Another party can also learn a great deal, and that’s any company that hesitates to adopt the Agile method. Those companies, if they want to stay relevant, must become aware of the real powers of adopting agile. From an improved work culture and customer satisfaction to client loyalty and timely product delivery, Agile is the ultimate project management of the future.

To sum up:

  • 75% of companies said that accelerated software delivery is their #1 reason for adopting agile.
  • Although standalone Scrum is used by 56% of teams, if you calculate the hybrid methodologies that include it, Scrum is used by 83% of companies.
  • Organizational design culture is the biggest challenge for implementing Scrum.
  • In regards to certification, the top certification in 2017 was the certificate for ScrumMaster.
  • SAFe is among the most used agile scaling methods and approaches (45%).
  • Atlassian’s JIRA and Confluence are the most popular agile project management tools today.

Sandra Petrova
Remote Work Researcher