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15th State Of Agile Report: A Summary

Agile’s journey from its principles aimed at software development to its present wide-scale adoption to deliver business speed and business value has been phenomenal. 15th State of Agile Report underscores several landmarks in Agile’s journey so far.


The global pandemic has expedited the role of Agility in software development and delivery. Organizations now realize being successful in the digital age requires an Agile-based approach. Organizations are under stress to respond quickly to the needs of their stakeholders and customers. There is a pressing need to improve existing solutions faster and to accelerate bringing new products to market.


This report takes a holistic view and clearly highlights that Agile has the potential to be a steadying force in uncertain times.

As per the survey:

  • Only 3% indicate they plan to return to the office full time

  • ¼ of respondents say they will remain fully remote in a post-COVID world

  • 56% favor a hybrid approach, returning to the office regularly but not daily

The organizations that can quickly identify and address the critical spots to drive the business will lead the new normal.

Agile has gone Mainstream: Fueled partly by an accelerated distributed global workforce, this year’s report finding sees a massive increase in Agile adoption across the verticals of the enterprise. Since the State of Agile report first began 15 years ago, there is a gradual increase in the number of enterprises adopting agile processes and practices. The effect is visible both Inside Development as well with other non-IT groups viz. Finance, Marketing, and Operations.


This year’s findings indicate significant growth in Agile adoption within software development teams, increasing from 37% in 2020 to 84% in 2021. However, there are some barriers to Agile adoption and among them are:

  • Inconsistencies in processes and practices 46%

  • Cultural clashes 43%

  • General organizational resistance to change 46%

Despite the prevailing challenges, it’s evident that Enterprises continue to see the value in expediting Agile adoption to achieve critical business goals. In fact, 2/3rd of the respondents identified streamlining and syncing between business and IT brings the strongest positive impact. And Organisational culture that once used to be a barrier is no longer a hindrance in adopting Agile. Only 4 in 10 respondents consider it as an impediment.


Driving DevOps and Value Stream Management initiatives: Consistently over the years, more respondents confess their organizations view both DevOps and value stream management (VSM) initiatives as integral to achieving business goals. More than ever, enterprises are under increasing stress to deliver features that provide greater value. Efficiency and reliability are the need of the hour.

  • 3/4th of respondents say DevOps transformation is very important to their enterprise

  • 2/3rd are involved with implementing or planning a VSM initiative.

Agile Adoption

The two most urgent reasons for adopting Agile are the speed and flexibility in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world.

Main Reasons for Agile Adoption:

  • Enhance ability to manage changing priorities

  • Accelerate software delivery

  • Increase team productivity

  • Improve business and IT alignment

  • Improve project visibility

  • Reduce project risk

  • Better respond to volatile market conditions

  • Improve team morale

  • Improve engineering discipline

  • Better manage distributed teams

  • Reduce project cost

  • Increase software maintainability

Agile delivery is aimed at external measures, with roughly half of the respondents focused on business value delivered (49%) and customer satisfaction (49%).


Agile Challenges The most significant Agile adoption barriers include:

  • Inconsistent processes and practices across teams

  • Organizational culture at odds with agile values

  • General organization resistance to change

  • Lack of skills/experience with agile methods

  • Not enough leadership participation

  • Inadequate management support and sponsorship

  • Insufficient training and education

  • Pervasiveness of traditional development methods

  • Lack of business/customer/product

  • Fragmented tooling and project related data/measurements

  • Unwilling to admit mistakes and learn from delivery failure

  • Minimal collaboration and knowledge pairing

  • Regulatory compliance or government issue


Agile Techniques and Maturity Agile techniques and practices:

  • Daily standup

  • Retrospectives

  • Sprint/Iteration planning

  • Sprint/iteration reviews

  • Short iterations

  • Kanban

  • Planning Poker/Team Estimation

  • Dedicated customer/product owner

  • Release planning

  • Product roadmapping

  • Single team

  • Frequent releases

  • Story mapping

  • Agile Portfolio planning

  • Common work area

  • Agile/Lean UX

The survey once again highlighted Scrum as the most popular agile approach with 66% identifying it as the methodology they follow most closely. In terms of agile techniques and practices, at least four out of five respondents cited:


In addition: Kanban boards 77%, • Task boards 67%, and • Spreadsheets 66% are all widely used for Agile planning.


Scaling Agile:

While a wide range of scaling frameworks are in use, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) continues to be the most popular with 37% of respondents identifying it as the framework they most closely follow. SAFe® significantly outdistances the next nearest scaling method, Scrum@ Scale/Scrum of Scrums (9%).


Improving DevOps Success: DevOps helps increase software delivery frequency and reliability while reducing bugs in production. Accelerating software delivery and improving quality are shown to be the top measures of success for DevOps transformation initiatives.


DevOps Initiatives: With 74% of respondents stating they either have a current DevOps initiative or are planning one, DevOps maintains a steady strong level of investment. Broad organizational recognition and acceptance of DevOps continue to grow. In the current survey, 75% of respondents indicate DevOps is important or very important to their organization with only 9% stating it has no importance.


Value Stream Management:

Introduced only in last year’s State of Agile survey, VSM is an important focus for respondents. VSM is a combination of the people, processes, and technology that maps, optimizes, visualizes, measures, and governs the flow of business value.

In this year’s survey, more than half (56%) of respondents have implemented or are planning to implement VSM and an additional 23% report their organization is interested in VSM.

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