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Agility at Scale: 2009 Open Research

How to Measure Anything This open research into agility at scale was performed during the month of November 2009 and there was 452 respondents. The survey was announced in my November DDJ newsletter, Crossing The Developer-Data Divide, and in Jon Erickson’s blog.

The Survey Results

The survey results will be summarized in my December 2009 DDJ newsletter.

Some findings include:

  • The minority of agile teams, 45%, are co-located. See Figure 1 for how geographically distributed some agile teams are.
  • Most agile project teams are 20 people or less, although some organizations are succeeding at applying agile techniques on large agile teams of hundreds of people.
  • Some organizations are successfully applying agile strategies in regulatory situations such as complying to FDA, HIPPA, or Basel 2 regulations
  • Some organizations are successfully applying agile strategies with process/governance frameworks such as ISO 900x, CMMI, and TOGAF
  • 92% of organizations have taken agile past the pilot project stage
  • 40% have successfully applied agile in complex or very complex situations, see Figure 2 for the levels of domain complexity being addressed by agile teams
  • Many organizations are successfully applying agile strategies in organizationally distributed situations
  • 15% of organizations are successfully applying agile strategies with COTS/package implementations
  • 62% of organizations are successfully applying agile strategies on projects requiring integration with legacy systems, and 45% on projects working with legacy data
  • 54% of organizations have had to overcome a waterfall culture when adopting agile, 52% have struggled to gain stakeholder access, 32% applied agile in a command and control culture, and 31% in an organization where IT professionals were overly specialized
  • 32% of organizations have agile teams which have worked successfully with their technical enterprise architecture team, 17% with their enterprise data team, 11% with their IT governance group, and 10% with their portfolio management team. See Figure 3 for how agile teams are working with enterprise-level teams.
  • Many organizations are still finding excuses – such as having a rigid culture (59%), no training and education resources for agile (47%), geographic distribution of teams (23%) – for not adopting agile which other organizations have clearly overcome. See Figure 4 for a summary of the excuses.

Figure 1. Agile teams and geographic distribution.


Figure 2. Agile teams and domain complexity.


Figure 3. Agile teams and enterprise disciplines.


Figure 4. Excuses given for not adopting agile.




Survey questions

The Survey Questions(117K)

Survey Data File

Raw Data(258K)

Survey Presentation

Summary Presentation(160K)


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. People didn’t know the purpose of the survey, so that likely removed some bias. My strategy for the DDJ surveys is to send out a short survey every two months entitled “State of the IT Union, DATE” but to not indicate what the topic of the survey actually is (other than an IT topic of course).
  2. 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.