New Analyst Report Rips Agile: Says It's 'Designed To Sell Services,' a 'Developer Rebellion Against Unwanted Tasks'

"The Agile movement is designed to sell services," says analyst firm Voke Inc. in a brand-new report analyzing the movement, presenting findings about its use and providing insight to organizations considering its adoption.

In addition, the report includes data supporting what Voke calls the "Agile Dilemma," described as "the inherent risk and confusion created by the business desire for speed and flexibility misinterpreted as a mandate to participate in the developer-centric movement called Agile, which may not be appropriate for all organizations or projects."

The report contrasts the "developer-centric" Agile movement with software engineering, a more comprehensive part of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) that incorporates cross-functional teams with responsibilities for architecture, design, testing and more beyond just software development.

"The Agile movement shifts the broad, inter-departmental process of software engineering to one that is focused on software development to the exclusion of QA and operations," says the report in an "assumption."

"In spite of the specialization of resources which limits the scope of the work of developers, the Agile movement might inspire and encourage developers to push back on processes, tools, documentation, and following plans," the report says.

The July 11 Market Snapshot Report, titled "Agile Realities," is authored by Lisa Dronzek and Theresa Lanowitz, who from June 2011 to February 2012 asked more than 200 participants about their use of Agile software development and the results of that use. It's available to the public by subscription or by an on-demand purchase of about $150 on the Voke Web site.

The survey results include the following (verbatim from the report):

  • Sixty-four percent (64%) of survey participants found the transition to Agile confusing, hard, or slow. Twenty-eight percent (28%) report success with Agile.
  • Out of over 200 survey participants, we received only four detailed comments describing success with Agile.
  • Overwhelmingly, 40% of participants that use Agile did not identify a benefit.
  • The primary benefits identified were faster releases (14%) and more feedback (13%). Some participants (7%) also noted that Agile developers were happy due to less future planning and less documentation.
  • Survey participants report that developers use the guise of Agile to avoid planning and to avoid creating documentation required for future maintenance.
  • We received some unprecedented scathing and shocking comments about the level of competence, professionalism, and attitudes of some members of the Agile movement.
  • Be aware that the Agile movement might very well just be either a developer rebellion against unwanted tasks and schedules or just an opportunity to sell Agile services including certification and training.

The survey says participants indicated that the projects more likely to be successful with Agile included smaller projects, custom-development projects and Web applications, along with projects that used Agile only when appropriate and by experienced teams who understand objectives and requirements.

Besides Agile benefits and challenges, the report also detailed information on the use of development methodologies, Scrum, sprints, development QA, an analysis of the Agile Manifesto and advice on assessing your organization for the possible adoption of Agile. The report also contains information on the rising cost of software development and possible reasons for it. The analyst report comes with a 20-page "strategic brief" titled "Cost of Rework Models for Agile and Non-Agile Projects," which Voke says "provides economic models for evaluating project results and selecting the most appropriate methodologies."

The 44-page main report concluded with a cautionary note:

All software requires effective requirements and the management of cost, quality, and schedule; this is the classic software conundrum and will remain so. Organizations thinking that there is a quick fix to this age-old problem need to realize that today's solutions are all too frequently tomorrow's problems. Remember, look before you leap!

What's your take on this report and the agile development movement? Post your thoughts in the comments and let us know!

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About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.