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Agility at Scale: 2016 Open Research

How to Measure Anything This open research into agility at scale was performed during October 28 to November 12 2016 under the title November 2016 Agile State of the Union Survey. There was 190 respondents. The survey was advertised on Twitter (@scottwambler), on the LinkedIn Disciplined Agile Discussion forum, the Agile and Lean LinkedIn forum, and on the Ambysoft IT Surveys page.

The Survey Results

There are several interesting observations from this survey:

  1. Not all agile teams are small. As you can see in Figure 1, roughly half (48%) of agile teams are more than 10 people in size and one-quarter are more than 20 people in size.
  2. Few agile teams are co-located. As you can see in Figure 2, 71% of agile teams are geographically distributed in some manner.
  3. Few agile teams are truly whole. As you can see in Figure 3, agile teams commonly collaborate with teams external to them. In fact, 96% of agile delivery teams do so.
  4. Agile teams rarely get the simple problems. As you can see in Figure 4, Only 22% of agile teams are taking on a straightforward problem domain or are pilot teams.
  5. Most agile teams work in a compliance environment. As you can see in Figure 5, Two-thirds of agile teams face either regulatory compliance (i.e. PCI, FDA) or organizational compliance (i.e. CMMI, ISO 900x).
  6. Most agile teams work in technically complex situations. 93% of agile teams have to deal with one or more technical complexities. And as you can see in Figure 6, 87% of agile teams are dealing with technical debt in some manner.
  7. Some agile teams are working in outsourcing situations. As you can see in Figure 7, 17% of agile teams are involved with outsourcing.
  8. Half of agile teams have team members from other organizations. As you can see in Figure 7, 52% of agile teams are have either consultants or contractors as team members.
  9. The majority of agile teams deal with some form of governance. 64% of agile teams interact with a governance team/body, steering committee, or PMO (see Figure 3).

Figure 1. Agile team sizes.

Figure 2. Geographic distribution within agile teams.

Figure 3. Who do agile teams work with in practice?

Figure 4. Domain complexity and agile teams.

Figure 5. Regulatory compliance and agile teams.

Figure 6. Technical debt and agile teams.

Figure 7. Organization distribution and agile teams.



Survey questions

The Survey Questions

Survey Data File

Raw Data

Survey Presentation

Summary Presentation


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. This survey suffers from the fundamental challenges faced by all 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. I think that it’s a good thing to do and I invite others to do the same.