In essence, optimal software engineering means creating the right product, through the right process, to the overall satisfaction of everyone involved. Adopting the agile approach to software development appears to have helped many companies make substantial progress towards that goal. The purpose of this paper is to clarify that contribution from comparative survey information gathered in 2010 and 2012. The surveys were undertaken in software development companies across Northern Ireland. The paper describes the design of the surveys and discusses optimality in relation to the results obtained. Both surveys aimed to achieve comprehensive coverage of a single region rather than rely on a voluntary sample. The main outcome from the work is a collection of insights into the nature and advantages of agile development, suggesting how further progress towards optimality might be achieved.
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