Agile Projects are more Successful – Survey Result

Survey conducted by Scott Ambler has consistently (2008, 2010 & 2011) shown that Agile and Iterative Projects have been more successful.

Apart from the fact that Agile has been consistently been more successful compared to traditional approach, these survey result show two more interesting result – one of them is very surprising.

1) The gap between “Iterative + Agile” and “Traditional + Ad-hoc” has been increasing

It is not clear why there is a dip in the success rate of all types of project in 2010. But, leaving that aside, the gap has been consistently been increasing (2008=7%, 2010=13% and 2011=18%).

So, does it mean that people have really mastered the art of how to manage Agile and Iterative projects?

Or, does it been, people who are good at project management have abandoned Traditional approach and migrated to Agile or Iterative approach?

2) Iterative approach has consistently performed better than Agile

Though the difference is not very significant, all the 3 survey has indicated that iterative is slightly more successful compared to agile.

Does it imply that all the stuff in Agile Manifesto about “People over Process”, “Co-located Team”, “Face to Face communication”, “Cross functional team” etc. has very little to contribute to project success? When you scale Agile, you may need to violate some of them anyway.

Agile@Scale ≠ Agile@Manifesto

Word of Caution from Scott Ambler

He is quick to point out the known challenges with any survey.

  • You will only get responses from people willing to be surveyed
  • You risk getting responses from people with strong feelings about the topic
  • Very often questions capture opinions, not facts
  • The biases of the communities will be reflected in the results

This means (1) your survey sample may not represent the real world, and (2) your result may be based on opinion and not fact.

BUT, the question that we need to ask ourselves is…

…Has the time come for us to examine, which of the agile practices have a +ve correlation with project success and which are only rituals with no impact on the project success?

4 Responses to “Agile Projects are more Successful – Survey Result”
  1. ejedelmal says:

    Answer to question #2: Yes, the stuff in the agile manifesto makes the difference. I mean, if you consider the RUP, the paradise of paper termites, agile do it better with less models and documentation (and much less paper).

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