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Identifying some critical changes required in adopting agile practices in traditional software development projects

Subhas Chandra Misra (Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, India)
Vinod Kumar (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
Uma Kumar (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Article publication date: 20 April 2010




Agile software development (ASD) is currently an emerging approach in software engineering for improving quality, initially advocated by a group of 17 software professionals who practice a set of “lightweight” methods, and share a common set of values of software development. Owing to the attractive claims of successes of the ASD approach, many traditional projects, which used to practice plan‐driven software development, are gradually transitioning into ASD‐based development. This paper seeks to report the results from a survey‐based ex‐post‐facto study aimed at determining the relative importance, if any, of the changes traditional plan‐driven software development projects have to undergo to adopt ASD practices.


The study was conducted using a web‐based survey with ASD practitioners who had experience of practicing plan‐driven software development in the past. ASD practitioners from a wide range of industrial sectors participated in the study. Similarly, the study is not restricted to any specific organisation/project size, culture, or nationality – the respondents were widely geographically distributed across continents.


The study received 241 responses, of which 165 were usable. The study did not reveal any substantial difference in importance of the four classes of changes hypothesised – changes in culture, changes in management style, changes in knowledge management strategy and changes in development processes. The authors believe that this is an important finding because it is indicative of not isolating one class of changes from another in practical transition exercises. However, another noteworthy observation was that transitioning from heavily process‐centric to short, iterative, test‐driven, and people‐centric development was considered by the largest percentage (roughly 77 per cent) of respondents to be very important. The open‐ended questions in the study also revealed three additional classes of changes: changes in personal characteristics, changes in customer attitude, and changes in knowledge and education of stakeholders.


In this work an attempt was made to gain an understanding of the relative importance of the different critical changes that would be helpful to a project manager who is involved in the transition from traditional plan‐driven software development practices to agile software development practices.



Chandra Misra, S., Kumar, V. and Kumar, U. (2010), "Identifying some critical changes required in adopting agile practices in traditional software development projects", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 451-474.



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Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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