14th Annual State of Agile Report – 5 Key Results You Need to Know

The Annual State of Agile Report has become something of a standard in my organization over the past few years. It has been an interesting journey to see the practice of Agile methods spread across all sectors and industries across the world. Each year that an updated release of this report is published, I usually spend at least an hour to examine trends to try to understand where things might be headed. This year, just as many previous years, the 2020 publication provides some interesting insights which I will share with you. Take a closer look and see if these trends impact you or your organization’s Agile strategy.

Finding #1 – Risk reduction made a significant jump as a reason for adopting Agile

Between 2019 and 2020, the percentage of respondent who adopted Agile due to a desire to reduce risk increased from 28% to 37%, which is significant. At the same time, the percent of respondents that sought cost reduction dropped from 41% to 26%. My interpretation is that companies are more willing to invest capital in return for reducing project risk. Another way to look at it is that while cost is not as big of a driver, effective risk reduction using Agile methods is expected to improve outcomes which is likely revenue generation or increase in market share.

Finding #2 – Scrum remains the most popular method used today

At 58%, Scrum remains the most utilized framework/method in the industry today. This has been consistently the case over the past few years, but I see a slight increase in the overall percentage value which is not necessarily meaningful. Given that Scrum has been in use formally for over 20 years and it is highly marketed with well-established resources (i.e. books and training programs), this is not surprising.

Finding #3 – SAFe remains the most popular scaling method

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) maintains the top spot as the most used method for scaling Agile teams. There’s a 5% increase from previous year which is meaningful, while other methods remain far behind. This surprised me somewhat given that models such as Scrum at Scale (founded by Jeff Sutherland, one of the co-founders of Scrum) does not appear at all in this graph. In addition, “Scrum of Scrums”, which is not a formal scaling method, continued to represent a sizable portion of the market. This is telling us that a significant portion of the market is still trying to implement their own scaling method instead of adopting one of the defined models. What might be the reason for this? It’s possible that these organizations are not willing to invest in SAFe which is arguably one of the costliest models due to the plethora of training required to deploy this framework. Also, it is possible that companies feel that they have a unique business model (or culture), and that a defined model would not accommodate their needs.

State of agile report
Source: 14th Annual State of Agile Report, CollabNet

Finding #4 – DevOps initiatives continue to be important

The percentage of respondents who are either currently implementing DevOps or are planning to do so increased from 73% to 76%, which is not significant but is still meaningful. I see this as another confirmation that DevOps and Agile are tightly integrated and complement each other.

Finding #5 – Distributed teams is becoming the norm

Due to well-known events of 2020, it’s not surprising to see that 81% of respondents indicate that their organization has Agile teams that are geographically dispersed. As companies become increasingly more global, this trend will likely continue. I believe that this trend will present challenges in ensuring that teams are able to collaborate effectively and deliver positive results because Agile models were designed for co-located teams, and many organizations do not yet have an effective approach for managing distributed teams. This is where experienced coaching and consultation will likely make a meaningful impact.

State of Agile Report Conclusion

In closing, the latest State of Agile report may not have demonstrated any huge surprises to you, but I am hoping that at least one of these findings will help you refine your organization’s strategy for deploying Agile teams. In my opinion, I would like to see more companies invest in scaling their teams and reap the benefits sooner; instead of experimenting on their own, my recommendation would be to select one of the industry-recognized models and make a commitment to implement this model. This experience will provide significant benefits; even if the results do not meet expectations in the short term, the learning that occurs within the teams will easily justify the time and cost investment.

You may also be interested in the 3rd Annual Agile at Scale Report 2020. The 2020 Agile at Scale Survey provided us, once again, some valuable and interesting insights into the state of our practice. Cprime experts analyzed the responses from more than 3000 professionals, representing an impressive variety of verticals. We are happy to share this year’s results with you. Download today!

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Eugene Lai
Eugene Lai