Agile versus Plan-Driven Approaches to Planning – A Controlled Experiment

S. Zugal

Master’s thesis, University of Innsbruck, Institute of Computer Science, 2008.

Abstract. Scarce resources, fierce competition as well as ever changing business demands require software development approaches which are efficient, flexible and keep time to market low. While anecdotal evidence suggests that agile approaches satisfy the necessary requirements and outperform plan-driven approaches, there is still a lack of scientific results. This thesis compares the adoption of plan-driven versus agile approaches for planning. Since studying real projects would be too cost and time intensive, a journey is deployed as a metaphor for a software development project. In an experiment, students simulate the undertaking of a voyage with the usage of a travel simulator. The gathered data suggests that best results can be achieved
by adopting agile methodology, but there is no statistical significance that agile approaches perform better than plan-driven ones on average. Manual analysis showed that the weak performance of agile journeys was not caused by conceptual problems, but by an insufficient implementation of agile practices as well as missing tool support.


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Stefan Zugal