The Risks of Agile Software Development: Learning from Adopters

Amany Elbanna, Suprateek Sarker

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Agile software development (ASD) emerged as a result of widespread professional discontent with traditional approaches, the high failure rates associated with software development projects, and most importantly, the need for speedy responsive delivery of software particularly for Internet businesses. Today, ASD approaches are embraced by many practitioners, and often extolled by commentators as being ‘faster, better, cheaper’ approach to software development. However, a recent high profile failure of an ASD project and the discontinuance of the use of ASD practices in a software company have drawn attention to possible risks associated with ASD. Before we can manage such risks, an important first step is to identify the risks and understand why these risks arise in the ASD context. In this paper, we offer insights derived from the examination of ASD practices in 28 organizations. Based on 112 interviews conducted in these organizations and further 25 interviews conducted with agile software development contractors (developers and project managers) and consultants, we unearthed key risk factors related to ASD practice that need to be carefully managed to achieve desired project outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-79
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Software
Issue number5
Early online date11 Nov 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Nov 2015


  • Agile software development
  • software risk management
  • software development methods
  • technical debt

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