Computer WorkingA recent Forrester Consulting study commissioned by CapTech[1] regarding onshore versus offshore IT work has been getting a good deal of attention, but some important aspects of the report - those dealing with the value of agile methodologies - haven't been in the spotlight nearly as much.

The study makes clear that large numbers of businesses today not only understand the value of agile methodologies but are actually using these methodologies to build and innovate.

For agile practitioners and leaders, that's welcome news. It means that we've been heard.

Forrester surveyed 300 U.S.-based businesses with 1,000 or more employees and asked about their relationships with third parties that provide IT services. Although the survey focused largely on onshore versus offshore vendors, Forrester also asked about agile. It's worth noting, by the way, that many of the respondents were involved with application development capabilities being developed and/or managed by third-party services providers.

Two survey results in particular caught my attention. The researchers asked which competencies were very important to the success of a third-party project. In response:

  • Forty percent of respondents cited the "ability to accommodate changes to requirements/scope [in] mid-project."
  • Thirty-nine percent cited "agile development/project management" capabilities.

It should be noted that the first of these two is an indirect reference to agile, which revolves around the ability to change requirements and scope in mid-project.

At CapTech, we've learned over the years that traditional waterfall methodologies don't always provide the degree of flexibility that innovative businesses need. Before a waterfall-based project begins, the business spends tremendous time and effort developing project requirements. After the project is completed, a great deal of rework is generally required because business needs have changed since project inception.

One of our objectives in agile is to reduce the time and money spent on requirements. We want to develop just enough requirements to get the product built, make any needed changes while in progress, and get the product out the door as quickly as possible. That drives important competitive advantages.

The Forrester study suggests that 40 percent of businesses understand the need for flexibility and have made it a requirement.

The other point that caught my attention-that "agile development/project management" capabilities are a requirement-is also telling. It means that 39 percent of businesses are already doing agile; otherwise, it's safe to say, they wouldn't cite agile as a requirement.

Only five or six years ago, when agile was still a foreign concept to many people in the business and IT worlds, we wouldn't have seen numbers like this. For agile practitioners, it's a gratifying turn of events. Clearly, business leaders have been paying attention to us, are now following agile practices, and, further, counting on agile methodologies as a means to build, innovate, and compete.

In my opinion, two major factors are driving agile adoption. One factor is the rise of enterprise agile frameworks such as the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), and Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD). The other factor is that the talent entering the market today is familiar with agile methodologies, which have become accepted and mainstream aspects of the SDLC.

Looking ahead, it's likely that the numbers of businesses that insist on flexibility and agility will continue to increase-and equally likely that developers who aren't immersed in agile will find themselves at risk.

Download a full copy of the Forrester study here.

[1] Study: Onshore/Nearshore Services Thrive In The Age Of The Customer: Selecting The Right Partner For Your Company's Digital Transformation, May 2016. A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of CapTech. Base: 300 IT and business professionals of U.S. enterprises with 1,000 or more employees responsible for decisions related to third-party service providers.