Agile vs. Structured Distributed Software Development: A Case Study

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Estler, H., Schneider, J., Nordio, M., Furia, C., & Meyer, B. (2012). Agile vs. Structured Distributed Software Development: A Case Study. Paper presented at the Conference on Global Software Engineering (ICGSE).

Publication type

Paper in Conference Proceedings


This paper presents a case study on the impact of development processes on the success of globally distributed software projects. The study compares agile (Scrum, XP, etc.) vs. structured (RUP, waterfall) processes to determine if the choice of process impacts: the overall success and economic savings of distributed projects; the importance customers attribute to projects; the motivation of the development teams; and the amount of real-time or asynchronous communication required during project development. 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 some common critical aspects.


Organizational Units

  • Institute of Information Systems
  • Hilti Chair of Business Process Management