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I think you are right, and the agile people are also right. Reviews are good, risk management is good and phases are part of every developer's life. The matter of where best to place the milestone markers on the time scale is all a matter of project dynamics.<div>&nbsp;</div> Don't be fooled by the percentage of successful agile projects that only *seems* to be higher than the number of traditional projects. Studies have proven that there is a significant correlation between project size and project failure. It just happens to be that agile methods are more often applied to the smaller projects. That doesn't mean they are the reason for the small projects to be more successful. Causality may not have been proven.<div>&nbsp;</div> Small projects were more successful than large projects long before agile methods came into the picture. It's just that agile practitioners are more vocal in their (correct) claim that big projects should be cut into smaller pieces.

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There are many reasons why agile projects have a higher success rate than traditional projects:- We have smaller teams- We focus on high value activities (allowing smaller teams)- We have a greater focus on quality techniques- We reduce the feedback cycle as much as possible- We work closely with stakeholders- We work as collaboratively as possible<div>&nbsp;</div> These are all great ideas, and there's nothing stopping traditional teams from adopting them, and they all seem to reduce project risk. Working smarter seems to be paying off for the agile community.

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True, I too believe that each of these best practices contributes to better projects. I just think that comparisons in polls and surveys between "agile" and "traditional" approaches (at least the ones I have seen up to now) are meaningless, for two reasons:<div>&nbsp;</div> 1. Comparisons should only be made for projects of equal size. Because, by their very nature (complexity), big projects have a higher chance of failure than small projects, whatever best practices you throw at them. Sure, I believe that agile practices increase the chance of a project success, even for large projects. But that is not what these simple surveys are measuring. They just compare *all* traditional projects versus *all* agile projects. This is unfair, because research has shown that agile practices are still more often applied to small projects. Traditional approaches are more often used in lart projects. So the outcome of the survey is already skewed. It simply doesn't prove anything.<div>&nbsp;</div> 2. When is a project agile and when is it traditional? If I were to apply only half of the best practices you mentioned, in which category would my project fit then? I wouldn't know. So I find these polls and survey meaningless.

4 localhost commented Trackback

Jurgen, there's definitely limits to surveys and polls. But, they do provide some value as they can provide insight into what's going on out there in the wider world. To fully address the issues that you're interested in would require significant effort by researchers. I don't know of anything that's currently under way right now, although would hope that these sorts of issues are being looked into. <div>&nbsp;</div> One of the reasons why I share all of the data from the surveys that I do run is to help give researchers a step up on their own work. They can analyze the data for themselves to hopefully identify trends which could be explored deeper through other means.<div>&nbsp;</div> - Scott

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