Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Reconciling agility and architecture: a theory of agile architecture

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posted on 2021-11-14, 06:30 authored by Waterman, Michael Grant

The purpose of agile software development is to enable the software development team to respond to change and learn from change so that it can better deliver value to its customer. If an agile software development team spends too much time planning and designing architecture up-front then the delivery of value to the customer is delayed or otherwise compromised, and responding to change can become extremely difficult. Not doing enough architecture design increases exposure to risk and increases the chance of failure. The balance between architecture and agility is not well understood by agile practitioners or researchers.  This thesis is based on grounded theory research involving 44 participants from 36 organisations, all working in agile software development and who are either experienced in architecture design or are closely involved with architecture. The thesis presents a theory that describes how agile software teams design an agile architecture with reduced up-front design and which is able to respond to change, helping teams find a balance between architecture and agility.  The theory describes six forces that affect the agility of the architecture and up-front design, and five strategies that teams use in response to those forces to determine how much effort they put into up-front design. Understanding these forces and strategies helps agile teams to determine how much up-front design is appropriate in their contexts.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Software Engineering

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970108 Expanding Knowledhe in the Information and Computing Sciences

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Engineering and Computer Science


Noble, James