Agile Software Development in Regulated Environments – A Systematic Mapping Study

By: Einas Najjar, University of Limerick, MSc dissertation, 2013.

Context: Agile software development has succeeded in developing various types of systems. Although there is a growing interest in investigating the use of agile software development in regulated environments, research on the adoption of agile methodologies in regulated environments is still at an early stage. Moreover, there is a debate about whether agile software development is applicable to critical development software or not. Thus, it is important to systematically identify how agile software methodologies have been applied into regulated environment in order to make it useful for other organizations that are thinking of adopting agile methods.

Objective: The aim of this research is to identify primary studies on what has been done in the area of adopting agile software development in regulated environment and which research methods are used to study this topic. Furthermore, this research identifies the gaps to be addressed by other researchers in order to benefit from all beneficial use of agile software development.

Methods: A Systematic mapping study is conducted using a combination of automatic search and various search strings that allows identifying a variety of studies which provide an insight into agile software development in regulated environments. Moreover, the studies extraction is qualitatively synthesized to investigate benefits and risks that it comes along with agile software development in regulated environment.

Results: It is discovered that there is a lack of publication in adopting agile methods in regulated environment. Furthermore, agile software methodologies seem to be not fully suited on developing critical systems, but it needs to be tailored in order to meet the critical systems requirements.

Conclusion: According to this research, agile software development is likely to have a positive effect on developing critical software. In spite of this fact, agile software development still may have some challenges which should be overcome to be applied successfully in the regulated environment. Accordingly, agile software development for regulated environment needs more investigations in the future.