Recently Gina Poole blogged about IBM saved $300 million by going agile.  That's not too bad when you think about it.  

A few days later someone asked a series of questions that I thought would make an interesting blog posting, so here goes:

How much of IBM's projects (in percentage) are agile at the moment?
I don’t have exact numbers, but I believe that 90%+ of our teams in SWG are applying agile techniques in practical ways that make sense for their projects.  The primary goal is to be effective – in frequent releases, higher quality, and happy customers – not  just agile.  By the way, there is roughly 30,000 developers in SWG.



Can all of IBM's projects work with an agile methodology?

It’s certainly possible, but it may not always make sense.  Products that are in maintenance mode with few bugs or feature requirements may not benefit as much from agile practices -- those teams will likely continue to do whatever it is that they have been doing.  Having said that, it's still highly desirable to apply agile techniques on maintenance projects. 
Also, agile methods can be harder to use on some projects than others, for example, around hardware development.  As a general rule, I believe that the majority of software projects can benefit from agile techniques.  The primary determinant of whether a team can adopt agile techniques is culture and skill – not team size, the domain, or the degree of geographic distribution.  That notion surprises many people who think that large agile teams or geographically distributed agile teams can’t succeed in adopting agile practices.



Are agile projects sub-parts of large waterfall projects?

In some cases, that may happen.  I’m sure it’s also true in reverse.  We see many customers who are migrating from waterfall projects to a more agile way of doing things, and they often start this migration with smaller sub-projects.  At IBM, we have tens of thousands of developers worldwide on hundreds of teams, so we have examples of pretty much any combination of agile, iterative, and traditional practices that you can imagine.  There’s definitely not one size that fits all, which is a key aspect of the Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) process framework.



What do you think the impact of these numbers will be on the PM community?

The IBM PM community is embracing agile. And the reality is that a majority of development organizations around the world are moving to agile now as well (as much as 80% in some of the recent studies I’ve seen). I look forward to the increased adoption of agile methods by the PM community in general.  The fact that PMI now offers an Agile Certified Practitioner training program certainly underscores the fact that agile practices are being adopted widely in the mainstream which is a great thing to see.