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What Makes Agile Software Development Agile?  

31th August 2021






Our colleagues Aurora Vizcaino, Marcela Genero and Mario Piattini have participated in the most important international study on agility. What Makes Agile Software Development Agile?, the paper has been published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, DOI: 10.1109/TSE.2021.3099532, this one collects the results of the HELENA project carried out by 75 researchers from different countries.

The article analyzes 1467 responses from 691 participants from more than 55 countries. Most of the participants (57.3%) had 10 or more years of experience in software systems development, and the largest group were software developers (27%) followed by project/team leaders (19.2%). The size of the companies was fairly balanced: micro and small (26.6%), medium (24.4%), large (25.3%) and very large (23.1%).

The main conclusions are that there is no clear trend towards agile or traditional, but rather a trend towards hybrid development (in fact, only 6% of respondents stated that they implemented all disciplines with the same agile or traditional approach). The Project Management, Change Management, Requirements Engineering, Architecture and Design, and Maintenance disciplines show a trend towards a more agile implementation. The Quality Management, Configuration Management, and Transition and Operation disciplines are more balanced; and Risk Management tends to be more traditional.

It is also noted that the selection of practices used has a greater effect on the perceived agility of a given discipline than the methods used. And that few practices or methods (Waterfall, Scrum and Formal Specification) affect all disciplines. It is also found that the Implementation and Coding discipline is the most likely to be affected, followed by Integration and Testing, and Architecture and Design. Risk Management is the least likely to be affected. In addition, it is reflected that no method or practice can guarantee or avoid agility, as both agile and traditional development can be found.


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