Empirical Software Engineering

Agile vs. structured distributed software development: A case study

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In globally distributed software development, does it matter being agile rather than structured? To answer this question, this paper presents an extensive case study that compares agile (Scrum, XP, etc.) vs. structured (RUP, waterfall) processes to determine if the choice of process impacts aspects such as the overall success and economic savings of distributed projects, the motivation of the development teams, the amount of communication required during development, and the emergence of critical issues. The case study includes data from 66 projects developed in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The results show no significant difference between the outcome of projects following agile processes and structured processes, suggesting that agile and structured processes can be equally effective for globally distributed development. The paper also discusses several qualitative aspects of distributed software development such as the advantages of nearshore vs. offshore, the preferred communication patterns, and the effects on project quality.