The twin fears of economic uncertainty and digital disruption place an even greater emphasis on organizational agility in enterprises today. In fact, according to our State of Application Development 2019 report, most companies place agile first amongst the range of approaches to accelerate app development. Curiously enough, though, agile adoption is still at an early stage in most organizations. 

Agile adoption - Agility maturity levels

So, What Is Agile? 

In the context of software development, agile is a more adaptive development approach that focuses on evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement. This kind of approach is widely acknowledged as being well suited to customer-centric, digital development initiatives that need to continually adapt to customer feedback.

Going back to our study, we asked respondents to assess their level of agile adoption, using a five-level maturity model:

  • Level 1 - Initial: We lack consistency and need training to get everyone aligned.
  • Level 2 - Just Started: Processes not fully defined. Basic level of agile adoption. Development and testing are not fully in sync yet.
  • Level 3 - Defined: Our whole team is using well-defined agile processes, and we're consistently delivering sprint after sprint.
  • Level 4 - Measured: We’re measuring code quality and other key measures. Our focus is on engineering maturity.
  • Level 5 - Optimizing: We develop on schedule and release on demand. We’ve invested in automation for continuous integration and deployment. Consistent delivery across teams. Self-organized, sustainable, continuous improvement based on KPIs.

According to these results, only 24 percent of respondents think that they’ve progressed beyond defining their agile practices, and are now measuring and optimizing their approach.

So, the question is: how can companies get faster and more successful at maturing their adoption of agile?

Agile Adoption Trends

In our 2019 report, we sought to identify the main trends in agile development, and asked senior respondents to assess their organization’s overall agility using a self-assessment matrix delivered from Prosci’s “Agility Attributes Assessment.” 

Around three-quarters of respondents agreed or somewhat agreed with each of these statements.

Organizational agility assessment

We found that agility varies widely between industries and different company sizes. Modern industries, such as software and technology scored most highly for agility, whereas longer-established industries like retail, consumer durables, utilities, energy, and extraction considered themselves less agile.

Organizational Agility by Industry

Perhaps unsurprisingly, smaller companies seem to enjoy better agility compared to larger, more complex organizations.

Agile Adoption


Another interesting finding is that low-code users have an eight percent higher organizational agility self-assessment score compared to those not using low-code.

Agile adoption - advantage of low-code users 

Moreover, low-code users were 20 percent more likely to rate their agile maturity as level 3, 4, or 5 compared to those not using low-code.

Agile maturit score

So, what’s holding back agile adoption, and why do low-code users present better results?   

Challenges to Agile Adoption

 When considering what’s holding back agile maturity, we need to examine it from two perspectives:

  • Inside out: How the development team is organized, resource constraints, and other internal obstacles that frustrate agile adoption.
  • Outside in: The broader organization and cultural challenges that undermine empowerment, reduce business engagement, and therefore, undermine the success of agile despite the best endeavors of the development team.

How Low-Code Helps Successful Agile Adoption

Low-code supports agile adoption from both perspectives mentioned above.

Inside out – Low-code supports agile adoption inside a developer team for three reasons:

  1. Faster development: Get more delivered in a sprint, or consider shortening sprints, to get more rapid feedback and minimize the risk of rework.
  2. Reduced need for specialist resource: Low-code makes developers more self-sufficient and less likely to need support from specialists on topics like UI design, security, integration, application architecture, and performance.
  3. Fewer silos: Teams that use low-code are less siloed, and collaboration is less onerous. A single IDE and single skillset make staff more interchangeable. Less reliance on different tools, languages, and frameworks facilitates collaboration between developers. This means you spend less time on hand-offs, cross-training, and documentation.

Outside in  – The empowerment of product owners and their project teams, and the ability to foster deep and effective business engagement are the critical success factors for agile maturity. Here’s how low-code makes that happen:

  1. Greater empowerment: Faster development means less risk of upper management panicking and interfering. Simply put, you are not as likely to have to throw away two weeks of code if you need to course-correct when requirements become better understood. So product owners get less grief from management and can stay focused on what’s right for users and customers.
  2. Improved user and customer engagement: With significantly faster development, it is much easier to maintain the interest and excitement of business stakeholders. That leads to more immediate feedback throughout the project lifespan.
  3. Visual prototyping: Visual prototypes are essential for agile success. As soon as users can “play” with working screens, the better able they’ll be to express their requirements fully. With low-code, all development is visual and can often be done side-by-side with users.
  4. Visual models: Traditional coding does not lend itself to side-by-side collaborative development with users. For one, it’s too slow, and for another, code is meaningless to most business people. However, such collaboration becomes possible with low-code because process flows, business logic, and UI are all visually designed on screen. This speeds-up feedback, and minimizes the risk of false assumptions and rework.

Conclusion: Improving Agile Adoption with Low-Code

As shown by the comparison charts above, low-code appears to provide a measurable advantage for agile adoption and maturity. So, if you want to add some zing to your agile teams, improve engagement with your clients, and produce brilliant results faster, try putting some low-code on it— the, now, not so secret sauce. To learn more about adopting low-code in an agile organization, check out the blog post Adapting Agile to Build Products with Low-Code: Tips and Tricks.

And for the full low-down on the state of enterprise application development, get the full report

Agile adoption - State of App Dev report