Making Sense of the 12th Annual State of Agile Report – 6 Interesting Things You May Have Missed

ASPE TrainingMon, 09/10/2018 - 10:01

Recently, the annual State of Agile report was released for the 12th consecutive year to showcase market trends in Agile development. This annual survey included some interesting data points that shed light on the current state of the global marketplace with regards to how organizations are deploying Agile practices. While most of the data is common-sense and expected, I noticed a few interesting ‘nuggets’ of information that may make you think a bit more deeply about how (and more importantly, why) companies are adopting Agile. Take a closer look and see if you agree with my observations.

Interesting Point #1: Only 12% percent responded that their organizations have a high level of competency with Agile practices across the organization.

Although Agile principles have been formally publicized since 2001, a mere 12% of the respondents indicated a high level of competency. Isn’t that surprising? I was definitely surprised when I saw this. I would have expected a much higher number, even if the practitioners were under a false impression that they are doing Agile “right”. ASPE's Agile Boot Camp is a great way to get the experience and knowledge to properly create a roadmap for your team's Agile success.

Interesting Point #2: The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is reported as the most widely-used approach to scaling agile, with nearly 1/3rd (29%) saying that SAFe is the method they “follow most closely”.

This statement intrigued me somewhat when I first read it…”follow most closely”. I believe that this statement implies that most companies that have adopted SAFe are doing some variation of SAFe instead of following all the detailed practices that SAFe prescribes. Is that what you might expect? Possibly. Critics of the SAFe framework claim that it is much too prescriptive and should not be considered “Agile”, which could explain why organizations are following their own custom instance of the model.

Interesting Point #3: 40% of respondents stated that one of the key benefits of adoption Agile is improvement in “managing distributed teams”.

Given that Agile encourages face-to-face collaboration and interactions, I was surprised to see that almost half of the respondents claims they were able to improve how they manage virtual teams using Agile. This makes me wonder how they were managing remote/distributed teams before Agile. Perhaps they were able to gain more visibility into the work due to the ability to regularly assess progress (i.e. Sprint/Iteration Reviews), or perhaps they were able to implement tools that provided more clarity on status of the work? I think either are possible reasons for this outcome.

Interesting Point #4: 80% of respondents practice Sprint Reviews/Demos, and 85% practice Retrospectives.

While the difference between these two figures is not necessarily statistically significant, this data surprised me slightly because I would have expected more organizations to apply reviews/demos in order to showcase the work to customers and stakeholders. Having worked with dozens of Agile teams, my experience tells me that Retrospective seems to be the first event to be neglected or removed simply because practitioners generally do not have adequate skills to conduct an effective Retrospective. Perhaps the rest of the world is improving?

Interesting Point #5: Adoption of Scrum-based scaling methods does not appear to be growing

Scrum-based scaling methods, such as LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) and Nexus, have either stayed steady (1% for Nexus) or only grown very marginally (3% to 5% for Nexus). Scaled Agile (SAFe) has also not grown significantly, only up by 1% since the previous year. This surprises me because I expected more organizations to begin to master the art of deploying Agile across the enterprise for multiple teams. At the same time, scaling Agile is a complex effort that requires significant investment in time and resources, which could explain the slow growth.

Interesting Point #6: Atlassian JIRA is the most-used Agile management tool (58%), while VersionOne is the most recommended (81%).

So this statistic confused me. JIRA is the most used tool, yet the most recommended tool is VersionOne. Only 20% of the respondents are currently using VersionOne, so who is recommending VersionOne? Perhaps a large percentage of the respondents have used VersionOne in the past, but are no longer using it now, yet they still prefer VersionOne. I think that would make sense.

In summary, these are the small, somewhat hidden gems that I found within this very informative survey which provides an interesting view into the current world of Agile as we know it. Hopefully this will inspire you to think more deeply about how your organization is doing compared to others.

This annual report is released by CollabNet VersionOne and can be accessed here.