Five themes stood out from this year’s research on the state of application development:

In this fourth article in our top application development trends series, we examine what survey respondents had to say about their progress with agile and DevOps practices.

The Search for Speed

All organizations are seeking to continuously improve the efficiency, speed, and quality of software delivery. We wanted to find out what approaches and technologies (aimed at increasing capacity) organizations had invested in over the past year. Among the approaches organizations had invested in, agile and DevOps stood apart from the pack at 60% and 40% respectively.

Investments in Approaches to Speed Up Application Delivery
Investments in Approaches to Speed Up Application Delivery

Agile Maturity

We wanted not only to understand whether organizations were investing in agile, but also to gauge the progress of these practices. So, we asked respondents to assess their level of agile adoption using this five-level maturity model.

Agile 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 spring 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.

The average response was 2.6; meaning typically respondents said their agile maturity was somewhere between “Just Started” and “Defined”.

We compared results between organizations that were and were not using low-code. As shown below, users of low-code rated their agile maturity slightly higher than organizations that were not using low-code.

Agile Adoption Levels
Agile Adoption Levels

Adding the three highest maturity levels together revealed an average gap of 15% between the self-assessments of organizations using low-code and those not using low-code.

Combining Levels 3, 4, and 5 of Agile Adoption
Combining Levels 3, 4, and 5 of Agile Adoption

My previous blog post, “Why IT Struggles With Digital Transformation (and What to Do About It?) - Part 2: Improve Agile Adoption With Low-Code”, explored why organizations appear to be making plodding progress with their adoption of agile. The article provided three reasons why low-code helps agile adoption inside a developer team, namely:

  • Faster development
  • Less waiting for specialist resources
  • Breakdown of developer silos

However, as explained in the same article, 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. How low-code makes that happen was the main topic of the article. The critical factors discussed were:

  • Greater empowerment of product owners and their teams
  • Improved user and customer engagement
  • Visual prototyping to better elicit user requirements
  • Visual models that facilitate side-by-side development between developers and users

DevOps Maturity

We wanted not only to understand whether organizations were investing in DevOps, but also to gauge the progress of these practices. So, we asked respondents to assess their level of DevOps adoption using this five-level maturity model.

DevOps Maturity Model:

  • Level 1 - Not Started: Outages, war-rooms, blame, unplanned work, delays, and defects.
  • Level 2 - Starting: Thinking about cultural change, starting to write scripts, looking at test automation.
  • Level 3 - Fundamental: Automated build, cross-functional teams, product-focused, cultural change is underway.
  • Level 4 - Managed: Happy people, integrated tool chain that preempts failure, automated test and deployment, continuous delivery.
  • Level 5 - Optimizing: DevOps is done, fine-tuned, and tied tightly to business goals.

The average response was 2.4; meaning respondents typically said their DevOps maturity was somewhere between “Starting” and “Fundamental”.

We compared results between organizations that were and were not using low-code. As shown below, users of low-code rated their DevOps maturity slightly higher than organizations that were not using low-code.

DevOps Adoption Levels
DevOps Adoption Levels

Adding the three highest maturity levels together revealed an average gap of 10% between the self-assessments of organizations using low-code and those not using low-code.

Combining Levels 3, 4, and 5 of DevOps Adoption
Combining Levels 3, 4, and 5 of DevOps Adoption

My previous blog post, “Why IT Struggles With Digital Transformation (and What to Do About It?) - Part 3: Achieve DevOps Advantages With Low-Code”, explored why organizations are struggling to achieve DevOps maturity, and why DevOps simplification may be the order of the day.

The article suggests that it is time to rebalance IT for innovation, and summarised six capabilities of the OutSystems platform that can help that happen, by supporting and simplifying DevOps.

Any readers that want to delve into the details of these capabilities can do so by exploring the OutSystems Evaluation Guide, which answers the most common questions asked by teams considering OutSystems.

Agile and DevOps Maturity Is Higher Amongst Those Using Low-Code

As shown by the comparison charts above, low-code appears to provide a measurable advantage for both agile and DevOps maturity.

Respondents that were using low-code were 21% more likely to describe their organization as happy or somewhat happy with the speed of application development.

In the full report, we provide more detail on the range of approaches and technologies that organizations are using to increase capacity and speed up the delivery of new software applications. Moreover, we analyzed which approaches appear to be working best.

For the full low-down, we hope you’ll read the full report, or grab the next post in this series as soon as it’s available.

Next article: Customer-Centric IT Practices Are on the Rise (Coming Soon!)

Download the full report