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State of Agile Report: 4 key trends to watch

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Lee Cunnningham, Senior Director, Enterprise Agile Technology, CollabNet VersionOne

The importance of DevOps—as well as a growing intersection between agile and DevOps—is on the rise this year, says the 13th annual State of Agile report.

The results, compiled from responses by software professionals in various positions and industries around the world to a survey sponsored by software provider CollabNet VersionOne, identifies the trends and themes that currently shape agile adoption and practices.

While many findings remain unchanged from the 2018 State of Agile Report, there were some shifts in respondents' reasons for adopting agile. Here are some of the notable trends and what they mean for software professionals.

[ Is it time to rethink your release management strategy? Learn why Adaptive Release Governance is essential to DevOps success (Gartner). ]

1. Scrum and SAFe remain the agile power players

Scrum remains the dominating force, with 72% of respondents reporting that they use Scrum alone or as part of a hybrid. Use of Scrum/XP, for example, is on the rise compared to last year, jumping from 6% of respondents to 10%.

And the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) continues to be the scaling method of choice, with 30% of the respondents using it. Scrum of Scrums scored a distant second, with 16% saying it's their scaling method of choice.

[ Also see: From agile to DevOps to continuous delivery: An evolution in software delivery ]

2. Same impediments, new motivations for agile adoption

Organizational culture remains the leading impediment to adopting and scaling agile. Issues most commonly cited include resistance to change, poor support from management, and a culture that is at odds with agile values.

What motivates teams to adopt agile? The top reason cited is to accelerate software delivery, but there were many other drivers as well. For example, there was a big jump in people citing project cost reduction as a key driver for adopting agile, while increasing productivity and reducing project risk dropped in importance.

Reductions in project costs were reported as a benefit by 27% more respondents. However, agile adopters are also committed to investing in success. Respondents indicated that internal agile coaches, executive sponsorship, and company-provided training are most vital to ensuring that agile scales successfully.

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3. DevOps/agile alignment tightens

With 90% of respondents calling DevOps important (a 27% increase from last year), delivering high-quality software at scale remains a top business initiative. Most respondents (73%) said they have a DevOps initiative either planned or in process.

Improving DevOps practices is also a rising priority. Some 38% of respondents said that end-to-end traceability from business initiative through development, test, and deployment is valuable.

4. Value stream management is gaining traction

Value stream management (VSM) made its debut in this year's survey, and 67% of survey-takers responded that it was important to connect the business to its software delivery capability. VSM is an emerging technique that connects an organization's business to its software delivery processes and helps organizations realize the promises of agile and DevOps.

[ Also see: DevOps and value stream mapping: Why you need metrics ]

What's next for agile?

As more organizations recognize the need to integrate agile and DevOps to scale and deliver the highest-quality software, business leaders want continuous visibility across value streams. This emphasis on value stream management will drive the agile market forward. Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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