Sep 032009

Cutter recently conducted a survey of than 100 software development organizations to study how companies deal with maintenance and other software support issues. The survey, which was analyzed by Senior Consultant E.M (Elli) Bennatan, covered a broad range of organizations: 45% with fewer than 25 developers, 23% with between 25 and 100, and 32% with more than 100 developers (of those, 18% have more than 400). The survey also covered a fair mix of both small and larger projects: at 59% of surveyed companies, projects are typically small — fewer than 5 person-years; at 35%, they are between 5 and 20 person-years (of those, at 11%, they are between 11 and 20), while the remaining 6% typically have larger projects that are more than 20 person-years (of those, at 4%, they are more than 40).

An impressive majority of the software development organizations (77%) reported that they have adopted agile methods, at least for some of their projects. And according to the data, most of these organizations (53%) found that agile-developed software is easier to support due to frequent product releases and customer involvement during development. Of the organizations reporting agile has an impact on support, 46% report that customer involvement during agile development leads to higher customer satisfaction. More details, and Elli’s comments, are here.


  2 Responses to “Agile-developed software is easier to support, say survey respondents”

  1. It would be a lot more interesting if the results were also separated by project size and companies size.

    Since 59% of the surveyed companies do small projects, and only 6% have large projects, the result of “53% found that agile-developed software is easier to support” may means a lot of different things…

  2. Laurent makes a good point. It is indeed helpful to know more about the characteristics of the software organizations that are gravitating towards agile methods.

    Project size most likely has greater impact on the use of agile methods than company size. The underlying assumption, for several years now, has been that organizations with small to medium projects lead in the adoption of agile, and benefit more from its use. This has certainly been my experience with companies (small and large) for the past decade.

    There has been significant discussion about the use of agile in large software projects and some leaders have offered words of caution, including SEI’s Mark Paulk and USC’s Barry Boehm (though neither totally discounts agile’s usefulness for large projects).

    Boehm wrote about “balancing agile and discipline” where he discusses the merging of agile and traditional methods, which is an interesting alternative for larger projects — though I must admit that I do not care for his choice of terminology (as if agile were not a disciplined methodology).

    It would be useful to further validate some of these assumptions. We will definitely consider addressing Laurent’s point in one of our future surveys at Cutter.

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