Chaos and Order in Agile Software Development: a Comparison of Two Software Development Teams in a Major IT Company
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Wang, X. and R. Vidgen (2007): "Chaos and Order in Agile Software Development: a Comparison of Two Software Development Teams in a Major IT Company", in the Proceedings of the 15th European Conference on Information Systems, St. Gallen, Switzerland, 7-9 June, 2007.
Agile methods have emerged and become popular over last few years as a response to shortcomings of the waterfall process model. However, agile processes are stamped by some as chaotic processes and are placed in opposition to waterfall approaches. This paper uses the edge of chaos concept from complex adaptive systems theory as a theoretical lens to analyse the roles of structure and planning in the software development process. The software development processes of two teams in a major IT company, on of whom uses agile methods and the other a waterfall approach, are presented and the project structure and planning process of each is highlighted then compared. Our research finds that structure and planning are essential to agile processes and take different forms from the waterfall model. Contrary to the belief that agile software development may be chaotic we conclude that it is possible that the waterfall method may be chaotic due to prescribed rather than effective structures.