Have Agile Techniques been the Silver Bullet for Software Development at Microsoft? – ESEM 2013

The pressure to release high-quality, valuable software products at an increasingly faster rate is forcing software development organizations to adapt their development practices. Agile techniques began emerging in the mid-1990s in response to this pressure. Agile techniques have evolved and matured over these years. Theoretically, agile techniques must be the silver bullet for responding to the pressures on the software industry. This paper tracks the changing attitudes to agile adoption and techniques, within Microsoft, in one of the largest longitudinal surveys of its kind. We collected the opinions of 1,969 agile and non-agile users in 5 surveys over a six-year period. This paper reveals that despite intense market pressure, the growth of agile adoption is slower than would be expected. It shows that while development practices of teams may be similar their perception of whether they are agile and non-agile practitioners differ. Additionally, the paper highlights the use of any individual agile practices does not seem to be exhibiting strong growth trends. Both agile and non-agile practitioners agree on the relative benefits and problem areas of agile techniques. Non-agile practitioners are less enamored of the benefits and more strongly in agreement with the problem areas. Both sets of engineers agree agile’s biggest problems are associated with use by large-scale software development teams, which would limit its future adoption.

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