Analyst firm Voke recently published “Market Snapshot Report on Agile Realities,” a report that reveals that agile development is often assumed to be faster, better and cheaper than waterfall, but often proves to be otherwise. “Many organizations are diving into the agile movement without a clear understanding of what it is, and what the consequences of adoption may be,” Theresa Lanowitz, lead analyst at Voke, said in a statement.

The July 11 report summarizes the results of a Voke survey of more than 200 participants about their use and general perceptions of agile software development. The report’s two main findings were that organizations often experienced difficulty with agile because they start agile without first having a clear understanding of what agile is, and that the average cost of agile software projects is rising dramatically in spite of smaller development teams working much shorter durations.

Voke’s report also provides details on the types of projects that are more likely to succeed with agile, the benefits and challenges of agile most frequently cited by survey participants, and agile project results across technology and other enterprise companies. The report is designed to provide organizations a context for evaluating whether or not to participate in the agile movement, as well as identifying how, when, or whether or not agile practices make sense for their organizations.

Many survey respondents started agile software development without first having a clear understanding of what agile is. “We read over 100 unique definitions of agile, with 9% of survey respondents really uncertain of the definition,” Lanowitz told SD Times. “And I think that’s part of the problem. There’s no definition of what agile is. There’s no centralization of it.

“In the report, we talk about the fact that we believe agile is based upon the Agile Manifesto and the guiding principles of it. However, when you look at those things, there’s no mention of Scrum, there’s no mention of iterative, there’s no mention of a lot of these things that people say, ‘Oh yes, of course that’s agile.’ So, who is to say that something is or isn’t agile? So that adds to the confusion.”

Agile done without having a basic understanding of it beforehand can certainly be a problem. Agile, like any new disruptive technology does, is going through a hype cycle, according to Nathan Wilson, principal research analyst at Gartner. “The hype cycle is where a technology goes from being introduced to being at the peak of expectation where everybody thinks it’s the silver bullet that’s going to save the world, to the trough of reality, and then it comes up to a productive light,” he said.

“Right now, we have agile in this ‘trough of disillusionment’ phase where people are trying it, and they’re finding it is maybe not everything they had hoped it was going to be.”

Jez Humble, principal at ThoughtWorks Studios and co-author of “Continuous Delivery,” agreed that companies are often confused by agile or don’t understand how to implement it correctly at first.

About Suzanne Kattau