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Embracing the ever changing nature of business and technology is as important as ever for successful organizations. Since the publication of the Agile Manifesto in 2001, the landscape of project management methods and organizational forms and structures still keep changing and evolving. Research is therefore warranted to keep investigating the changes, challenges, and solutions from practice and derive new ideas on how to further improve. 

Software-based information systems are often developed in the form of projects, with many involved stakeholders and project team members. The nature of information system development (ISD) is in many aspects intangible, and the major problems of development projects are not so much technological as sociological in nature. Communication, collaboration, and coordination are necessary for successful implementation, and creating a shared understanding is deemed to be a major driver for development success. 

In practice, approaches for developing software-intensive IS range from sequential approaches to more cyclic, iterative approaches. Most project management and development methods supposedly aim to facilitate communication and knowledge transfer among different participants and stakeholders. For example, rational unified process and various other approaches are often stated to have been created just for this purpose. The majority of traditional project management and development methods, either sequential or iterative, is plan driven and relies on formal communication, such as specification documents or models to control communication and knowledge transfer among project members and other stakeholders. For example, requirements are usually stated within a requirements document, which at the end of the system analysis phase, is a specification of the system to be built (Pohl, 1994). In rapidly changing environments, however, it is hard for formal mechanisms of communication, such as project plans, models, or specification documents to react quickly enough, and plan driven and sequential approaches falter: "Rather than being bastions of order in an uncertain world, traditional teams may indeed become chaotic should their plan-driven organization be overwhelmed by events".

Agile principles and new management concepts such as Scrum or eXtreme Programming have emerged during the last decades and have built upon iterative work as the lowest common denominator. The resulting agile approaches trade strict control for more flexibility and autonomy within the team, the overall development process is not planned and scheduled upfront, and progress is made in small iterative phases, while encouraging change and constant feedback. Planning becomes a permanent task, and team leadership is established via collaboration and is separated from project lead.

While the team is thus highlighted as the crucial aspect of agile in practice, extant research on agile approaches mainly has investigated specific and individual or organizational phenomena, such as the use and effects of specific agile practices, or effects regarding whole projects or organizations (e.g. the introduction of agile methods to teams, or the usage of agile approaches in large-scale, multi-team environments or portfolios).

Introductory Reading

  • Conboy, K. (2009). Agility from first principles: Reconstructing the concept of agility in information systems development. Information Systems Research, 20(3), 329–355.
  • Diegmann, P., Dreesen, T., Binzer, B., & Rosenkranz, C. (2018). Journey towards agility: Three decades of research on agile information systems development. In International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS 2018). San Francisco, CA.
  • Dybå, T., and Dingsøyr, T. (2008). Empirical studies of agile software development: A systematic review. Information and Software Technology, 50(9-10), 833–859.
  • Dybå, T., & Dingsøyr, T. (2009). What do we know about agile software development? IEEE Software, 26(5), 6–9.
  • Hummel, M., Rosenkranz, C., & Holten, R. (2015). The role of social agile practices for direct and indirect communication in information systems development teams. Communications of the Association for Information Systems 36, 273–300.