There are many myths surrounding Agile project processes that make it difficult for teams to successfully adapt to them.
Project managers must demystify and debunk these myths for their team members as well as to reduce the resistance to change from the team. Failing to do so puts you at risk of witnessing Agile project process failure. This will negatively impact your team’s productivity, project deliveries, and overall business revenue.
In this article, we’ll debunk five common myths that make Agile project process adoption for your team difficult. This will help you fully understand the Agile project process, realize its benefits, and embrace the change.
The 5 common myths about Agile busted!
Myth 1: Agile doesn’t need planning
Reality: Whereas the Waterfall approach involves planning at the outset of a project, the Agile approach involves continuous planning throughout the project lifecycle. Sprints are planned before an Agile project is kicked off. In essence, a sprint is the time period for completing and reviewing an activity or task. The project team decides the duration of each sprint and discusses the work to be completed in each sprint meeting. This way, everyone agrees on the required time, scope, and budget to avoid conflicts.
Our recommendation: Once the sprint is completed, compare the outcome against the established criteria (such as scope, time, and quality) to determine the success or failure of the sprint. Along the way, modify sprints for overall success. Also, plan for the project’s technical debt (cost of code quality) to avoid budget overrun.
Myth 2: Agile isn’t for big projects or remote workers
Reality: Continuous collaboration is the backbone of an Agile project. So, using an Agile approach in a large project has the same benefits. But you have to ensure that communication is continuous. Agile projects of all sizes have smaller and cross-functional project teams that collaborate throughout the project lifecycle. These teams need to frequently collaborate with each other, but they don’t need to be in one place. They can communicate and collaborate remotely using numerous collaboration and project management tools.
Our recommendation: Organize a scrum meeting to discuss all the subsequent scrums and evaluate the scrum teams. This will help you manage large projects and update all your stakeholders—whether in-house or remote.
You will also be able to discuss any overlaps and integrations for larger projects. Do this offline or online using communication tools that have screen-sharing and teleconferencing functionalities.
Myth 3: Agile is the fix for all problems
Reality: Agile is a set of values and principles (including collaboration, rapid feedback loops, and quality) that defines the core attitude for software development. It ensures that you and your team know about problems before they occur. This helps you plan for solutions beforehand and avoid friction in communication between stakeholders.
However, it’s not the solution to every software development problem nor suitable for projects that need shorter iterations. Sometimes, Agile projects may fail due to the stakeholder’s inability to adopt an incremental delivery approach.
Our recommendation: Document problems that your Agile project faces in its lifecycle as well the solutions to these issues. Your team can refer to these documents (i.e., case stories) to fix future problems. Try combining Agile and non-Agile frameworks to get results instead of overwhelming your team with change right at the beginning.
Myth 4: Agile is all about speed
Reality: The goal of an Agile process is to develop products that offer customer satisfaction as quickly as possible. Quality is paramount, followed by swift iterations. Small iterations or sprints in Agile ensure that each step of product development is planned, reviewed, and tested. Therefore, Agile isn’t just about speed, but also quality.
Our recommendation: Maintain a log of the pilot project and record the cost, time, and quality. It will motivate your team to do better in each sprint. In time, they will gain experience in delivering high-quality work and making faster deliveries. Keep motivating them to ensure that they can handle speed and quality with time.
Myth 5: Agile doesn’t involve documentation
Reality: Agile projects need documentation, but in the form of smaller user stories about project processes, issues, and resolutions instead of one large document. In Agile projects, your team starts delivering early and has shorter cycles of feedback that lead to continuous iterations and modifications. This requires further documentation so that they don’t fall behind or miss out on anything important.
Our recommendation: During the project lifecycle, your team may undergo changes and modifications to ensure seamless product development for customer success. Set a process to centralize and share all the documents that have information about the product and the overall project.
This repository would ensure that nothing is lost if team members are swapped or leave in the middle of the project, thus ensuring smooth functioning.
Agile project management methodologies
Now that we’ve debunked some common myths, here are a few agile methodologies you should know about:
Agile scrum methodology
Scrum is a lightweight Agile project management framework that can be used to manage iterative and incremental projects of all types. It is also one of the most common Agile methodology, used by 56 percent of organizations.
Lean and kanban software development
Lean software development is an iterative Agile methodology. It focuses on delivering value to the customer and ensuring the efficiency of the “Value Stream,” i.e., the mechanism that delivers said value.
The primary principles of the lean methodology include eliminating waste, amplifying learning, deciding as late as possible, delivering as fast as possible, empowering the team, building integrity, and seeing the whole picture.
Kanban is a highly visual workflow management method that’s popular among lean teams. It’s based on three basic principles: visualize what you’ll do today (workflow), limit the amount of work in progress (WIP), and enhance flow.
Extreme programming (XP)
It’s a disciplined approach to delivering high-quality software quickly and continuously. XP is intended to improve software quality and responsiveness in the face of changing customer requirements.
It promotes greater customer involvement, rapid feedback loops, continuous testing and planning, and teamwork to deliver working software at frequent intervals—typically, every one to three weeks.
The key tenets here are teamwork, communication, simplicity, and reflection to frequently adjust and improve the process. Like other Agile methodologies, Crystal promotes early, frequent delivery of working software, high user involvement, adaptability, and the removal of bureaucracy or distractions.
Dynamic systems development method (DSDM)
This is based on eight key principles—focus on the business need, deliver on time, collaborate, never compromise quality, build incrementally from firm foundations, develop iteratively, communicate continuously and clearly, and demonstrate control. These principles primarily revolve around business needs/value, active user involvement, empowered teams, frequent delivery, integrated testing, and stakeholder collaboration.
Feature-driven development (FDD)
This is a model-driven, short-iteration process. It was built around software engineering best practices such as domain object modeling, developing by feature, and code ownership. The best characteristic of FDD is the blending of these practices into a cohesive whole.
Next steps and recommended resources
Here are a few steps you can take to ensure successful Agile process adoption:
- Customize the processes to ensure project success: Implement the methodology that you understand and that fits your small business. You may need to combine a few methods to deliver on goals. Implement the methodology that fits your projects and business type instead of following trends or your peers.
- Modify and customize processes per your needs: As a small business, focus on people over processes. Don’t follow prescribed Agile principles—for instance, instead of holding daily stand-ups, meet twice a week when work is going well and twice daily when there are issues. Some top Agile techniques you can use include sprint/iteration planning, retrospectives, sprint/iteration review, and short iterations.
- Hold regular discussions to prepare for disruption: Try Agile practices before giving up on them. Modify them as per experience and keep revisiting processes to deliver quality. Expect disruption, discontinuity, and discomfort as the growing pains of moving to Agile as a small business. However, if it gets too much, ask whether the value and benefit you’re deriving from the disruption is worth it. Note that if there is no disruption, you may not be properly implementing and following the Agile methodology.
- Appoint coaches to manage disruption, motivate your team: Manage disruption by holding regular townhalls and company-wide discussions to ensure that your employees are on board and motivated. Ensure that they understand that the initial disruption means that all processes are being changed at the core. Soon enough, the adoption will be completed and project teams will get used to it.