Capers Jones & "How many teams are Agile?"

A while ago I tried to answer the question “How many software teams are using Agile?”. My best efforts put the answer at somewhere between 5% and 15%.

In the search for some other data I’ve recently been look through Capers Jones “Applied Software Measurement” (2008). It is packed full of interesting statistics and I really must buy a copy and read it in more detail. Anyway, Jones gives his hypothesis of project in this table:

Type of developmentNumber
Outsource – US17,50011%
Outsource – offshore15,00010%

(In case that table gets mangled, the first column is the type of development, the second the total Jones looked at and the third the percentage of the total.)

Jones puts the number of Agile projects at 13%, firmly inside the range I give. Of course there are two caveats here. Firstly, the ways Jones has sliced and diced the numbers leaves me wondering how he has counted military work running Agile, and outsourced work running Agile.

Second, how do we know if a piece of work is Agile or not? All the evidence I have tells me that an awful lot of teams are saying they are “Agile” and frankly aren’t. As Kevlin Henney suggested on re-twittered (from somewhere or other) recently a better question to ask is “How are you Agile?”

I’ll get Jones book and read it some more. One other thing he mentioned stood out: getting metric on software projects is hard. He says its like searching through debris, lots of rubbish then occasionally a nugget. Which sums up how I feel about software metrics now. Its quite like I imagine archaeology.

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