14th Annual State of Agile Report – SAFe experiences dramatic growth

Monday, June 1, 2020. By Marshall Guillory

The newest Digital.ai (VersionOne) (14th) Annual State of Agile Report was released on May 26th, 2020. Last year the report was published on May 8th, 2019, and the year before on April 9th, 2018. As I have reported in the past three years on the annual State of Agile Report, I will compare and contrast the various scaling frameworks’ growth and shrinkage using the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) since the 9th Annual report period.

14th Annual State of Agile Report

The newest VersionOne 14th Annual State of Agile Report shows some stability in market offerings while also observing a running trend with the Scaled Agile Framework for Lean Enterprises (SAFe) once again growing market share with 17% growth for the period and CAGR of 7%. Over the past several years, I have been providing commentary on exciting trends in the State of Agile Report, where I have compared the growth of scaling frameworks and methods to each other year over year. Interestingly, the most significant positive gain movers are SoS/proprietary/ad hoc scaling frameworks, DAD, and the SAFe. Others did not register with substantial numbers of implementations or usage.

The calculated Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for scaling frameworks using the 9th to 14th years in the Annual State of Agile Report

This year the most important news and trend from the report is the continued growth and dominance of the SAFe. Enterprises are adopting SAFe at a remarkable rate, showing a leading indicator that companies are choosing to mine the benefits of structured guidance included in the Lean-Agile bodies of knowledge of SAFe. It turns out that culture is still at the core of the responses for needing a change in ways of thinking, working, and feeling as the report shows culture as a primary target of change. This report had over 1,100 full survey respondents which is down from previous years (1,319 for the 13th annual).

Scaling Frameworks market share over the 9th to 14th years in the report.

Year over year, the SAFe has increased its’ market share to 35% and has enjoyed a healthy pattern of growth in CAGR. Meanwhile, Scrum of scrums has continued its decline while other players have leveled out or remain in negative growth patterns.

For comparison purposes, here is the growth/shrink from the 13th to 14th Annual reports.

Growth/Shrink for each major framework from 9th to 14th report years

Another notable trend in the report is the focus on the flow of value and Value Stream Management (VSM), which are both integral to SAFe. This focus on value also lends itself nicely to the natural inclusion of DevOps with its Three Ways and Ideals. Of course, value and flow in Lean Thinking is core to the Toyota Production System (TPS), where we source much of our Lean and Agile ways of thinking and working.

More than 40,000 Agile executives, practitioners, and consultants have participated in the State of Agile survey since its inception.

Digital.ai – 14th Annual State of Agile Report

The reasons organizations adopt “Agile” practices have been mostly consistent over the lifetime of the report with a desire for acceleration, alignment, predictability, and prioritization being critical drivers in the decision to invest. Most respondents organizations are using Scrum, which is excellent!

Digital.ai – “Top 5 Agile Techniques – 14th Annual State of Agile Report”

Share analysis:

  • Scrum of Scrums has plateaued with a 0% CAGR.
  • Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) lost its momentum with 0% increase in share. Perhaps due to the acquisition?  
    • DA has a CAGR of 6%
  • Nexus remains effectively dead on arrival, still at 2% share.
  • The SAFe® added 5% market share35% is still the market leader for structured guidance frameworks. 
  • LeSS stopped the bleeding and still holds a very small market share behind DAD. 
    • LeSS now has a CAGR of 0%
    • LeSS had a head start on the SAFe in 2005-2008, and 2010 but still indicates a very low adoption rate by market share CAGR in the first growth period from 2005 to 2011 when the SAFe was released.
    • With such a huge head start, why is LeSS not the market leader? 
  • Many other frameworks have negative CAGR as noted in the data set.


  1. One of the current market leaders registered in the report in 2011, where the topic was “Agile Methods and Practices.” Fast forward to the 12th annual report, and the question on everyone’s mind is now “Scaling Agile?” I find this quite interesting. Is it a market indictment of disconnected methods and practices that fail to address organizational change in a holistic, meaningful way? It does seem to suggest so. It is also clear that “Scaling Frameworks” are also insufficient as a standalone tool used for organizational change. At least, it was that way for a long time.
  2. LeSS is dead?


“VersionOne 11th Annual State of Agile Report.” VersionOne, explore.versionone.com/state-of-agile/versionone-11th-annual-state-of-agile-report.

“VersionOne 12th Annual State of Agile Report.” VersionOne, explore.versionone.com/state-of-agile/versionone-12th-annual-state-of-agile-report.

“VersionOne 13th Annual State of Agile Report.” VersionOne, explore.versionone.com/state-of-agile/versionone-13th-annual-state-of-agile-report.

“Digital.ai 14th Annual State of Agile Report.” https://stateofagile.com/#ufh-i-615706098-14th-annual-state-of-agile-report/7027494


 9th Annual10th Annual11th Annual12th Annual13th Annual14th AnnualGrowth/Shrink 10-11Growth/Shrink 11-12Growth/Shrink 12-13G/S 13-149th to 14th Annual CAGR 
SCALED AGILE FRAMEWORK® (SAFE®)19232829303522%4%3%17%7%63%
SCRUM OF SCRUMS697227191616-63%-30%-16%0%-15%431%
INTERNALLY CREATED METHODS/Don’t Know/Other251713102728-24%-23%170%4%1%93%
LEAN MANAGEMENT 1894333-56%-25%0%0%-18%600%
AGILE PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT (APM) 964333-33%-25%0%0%-11%300%
LARGE-SCALE SCRUM (LESS) 343533-25%67%-40%0%0%100%
DISCIPLINED AGILE DELIVERY (DAD) 4115770%400%40%0%6%57%
Spotify Model0001550%0%400%0%0%0%
Enterprise Scrum0000330%0%0%0%0%0%
Data from spreadsheet

Wrap up

It is important to remember to avoid focusing on the tools. It is PEOPLE who change systems. Change leaders drive change in an organization and only through hard work and repetition are companies able to anchor new behaviors in the culture.

Come back next year for more analysis and commentary. What are your thoughts? Comment below.