“Agile is a sewn-together quilt,” said Robert Haaverson, CEO of Imanami, a group management solutions vendor. “You don’t need to change completely; you take bits and implement them along the way,” he added.

The main patches of agile
At the forefront of the agile movement are Scrum and XP, the most popular methodologies in catering to a shop’s agile needs, according to the researchers. Whether used exclusively or together, the two processes are usually adopted to some degree during development.

Even a variation of Scrum exists. Known as “ScrumBut,” it was dubbed for shops that don’t fully comply with the methodology. It is for those who say, “We are doing Scrum, but…” While some people may view this as non-agile, others argue it’s simply a customization of an agile process to work better for that particular company and its structures.

“I see the methodologies as a continuum, and at the end of the day it’s all agile with the same principles and practices,” said Bruce Eckfeldt, CEO and managing director of Cyrus Innovation, an agile consultancy firm. “There’s nothing set in stone on how to do something. You’re always looking to improve.”

Needing improvement on delivery times and communications to their outsourced counterparts in Pakistan, Scrum was adopted at Imanami. Experimentation started three years ago, going into full swing after the first year. “We needed it five years ago,” Haaverson joked, but said it is helpful for all of them to know what the process is and to cut down on documentation by writing user stories.

However helpful Scrum has been for Imanami, Haaverson wants to propose coupling it with some waterfall practices. In agile there is no beta, he said, and it is hard to find a happy medium between getting a pre-release up to par and not jumping to release because engineering says it is ready. But after all, “it’s about tweaking the process,” he said.

Perhaps the methodology that lends itself best to tweaking is XP. “One part of XP is to change XP,” said Neal Ford, a software architect at ThoughtWorks, an IT consultancy firm. “You do things that work for you, not because it’s in a manual,” he said, adding, “As soon as you become dogmatic about it, you’ve lost the game and your work becomes lackluster. You need to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.”

Ford does foresee, however, agile methodologies being purely adopted in certain software development circumstances. And once you find a way that works for you, you stick with that, he said. Also it must be kept in mind that if a previous approach works, agile or not, it would be difficult for most people to leave that methodology behind, he added.

Avoiding the dogma
But for one software configuration management vendor, old methods weren’t working anymore. Nellie Lemonier, a Perforce user interface designer and Scrum master, experienced first-hand the adoption of an agile methodology.