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Agile State of the Art: 2006 Open Research

How to Measure Anything This open research into the agile state of the art was performed in March 2006 and there was over 4200 respondents. The survey was sent out to the Dr. Dobb’s Journal and Software Development mailing lists.

The Survey Results

I’ve summarized the results in Survey Says: Agile Works In Practice which appeared in the September 2006 of Dr. Dobb’s Journal.



The Survey Questions(120K)

Raw Data(930K)

Summary Presentation(300K)


What You May Do With This Information

You may use this data as you see fit, but may not sell it in whole or in part. You may publish summaries of the findings, but if you do so you must reference the survey accordingly (include the name and the URL to this page). Feel free to contact me with questions. Better yet, if you publish, please let me know so I can link to your work.


Discussion of the Results

  1. The results may be a bit optimistic because I used a mailing list composed of IT professionals who very likely read on a regular basis (either SD and/or DDJ). Therefore they may be more aware of new trends in IT than people who don’t read.
  2. The request that went out indicated that the survey was exploring agile adoption, so the adoption figures could be a bit higher as a result due to selection bias.
  3. Most organizations had positive results adopting agile techniques/methods. It is incredibly clear that piloting agile approaches within an organization is a very low-risk endeavor.
  4. The question regarding increased cost was poorly worded. In all of the other questions 1 was the “very bad things happened” answer whereas 5 was the “very good things happened” answer, whereas with this question it was the reverse. Hence the answers for this question may be more pessimistic.
  5. I did not ask whether the person worked for a public (government) or private organization, and therefore am unable to determine if a difference in adoption rate exists.
  6. Similarly, I didn’t ask about where in the world the respondent worked. The vast majority of SD/DDJ readers are in North America, so these results likely represent the experiences of IT professionals in North America but perhaps not other parts of the world.
  7. I did not ask how many teams within an organization had adopted an agile method or technique, just whether or not someone in the organization had adopted one.
  8. I didn’t include the RUP in the list of possible methods, so the method adoption rate might actually be pessimistic.
  9. FDD got a significantly higher adoption response, but at least an order of magnitude, than I expected. Perhaps people equated using a feature list for requirements to being fully FDD. So, I suspect that the results published in DDJ may be a little high.
  10. After a discussion with a few other “agilistas”, and we all have observed that many teams are doing a subset of the XP practices — often refactoringtest first design, co-location, continuous integration, and a few others as makes sense for their situation — and claiming to do XP. However, an aspect of XP is that you tailor it to meet your needs, so who is really to judge?
  11. This survey suffers from the fundamental challenges faced by all surveys.


Links to Other Articles/Surveys

  1. My other surveys


Why Share This Much Information?

I’m sharing the results, and in particular the source data, of my surveys for several reasons:

  1. Other people can do a much better job of analysis than I can. If they publish online, I am more than happy to include links to their articles/papers.
  2. Once I’ve published my column summarizing the data in DDJ, I really don’t have any reason not to share the information.
  3. Too many traditionalists out there like to use the “where’s the proof” question as an excuse not to adopt agile techniques. By providing some evidence that a wide range of organizations seem to be adopting these techniques maybe we can get them to rethink things a bit.
  4. I think that it’s a good thing to do and I invite others to do the same.