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Agile Adoption Rate: 2008 Open Research

How to Measure Anything This open research into agile adoption rates was performed in early February 2008 and there was 642 respondents. The survey was announced in the blog of Jon Erickson, the Dr. Dobb’s Journal editor.

The Survey Results

The results of the survey are summarized in Has Agile Peaked? published in the June 2008 issue of Dr. Dobb’s Journal.

Some findings include:

  1. 69% of respondents indicated that their organizations are doing one or more agile projects. Of those that hadn’t yet started, 15% believed their organizations would do so within the next year.
  2. 61% of developers think that their orgs are doing agile, whereas 78% of management thinks so. Apparently developers are a bit more discerning. 😉
  3. 82% of organizations doing agile were beyond the pilot project phase.
  4. Respondents overwhelmingly indicated that agile teams are producing higher quality, have greater productivity, and enjoy greater stakeholder satisfaction. See Figure 1.
  5. Agile success rates: 82% for co-located teams, 72% for near located (people in different cubes, on different floors, working from home, …), 60% for significantly distributed (planes would be involved to get people together). See Figure 2.
  6. 84% of agile teams have iteration lengths of 4 weeks or less, and 2 week iterations are the most popular.
  7. Although on average the costs are lower on agile teams, 23% of respondents believe they are experiencing higher average costs. 40% said costs were unchanged and 37% had lower costs.
  8. Co-located agile projects are more successful on average than non-co-located, which in turn are more successful than projects involving offshoring.

Figure 1. Effectiveness of agile software development compared with traditional approaches.



Figure 2. Agile success rates by level of team member distribution.



The Survey Questions

Raw Data

Summary Presentation


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. It is clearly an incredibly low-risk decision to consider adopting agile techniques. Only 5% of respondents indicated lower productivity, 9% lower quality, and 7% lower business stakeholder satisfaction.
  2. There is a significant risk premium on team distribution, 11% just for having people in separate cubicles or working from home compared with being co-located. 23% when members of the team are in significantly different locations compared with being co-located. If your team is distributed, get good tooling.
  3. Short iterations are clearly the norm.
  4. Some organizations are succeeding at large agile teams.
  5. 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. Therefore they may be more aware of new trends in IT than people who don’t read.
  6. 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.
  7. The vast majority of respondents 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.
  8. 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.