While the spotlight shines bright on Agile methodology and its advantages, there are a number of questions that need to be answered before taking the leap. Here are my key concerns before I take the leap.
A lot of the time, people think that Agile methodologies and development will solve all their problems with a minimal amount of effort. This is not true at all. Before you jump into implementing Agile it is important to understand what agile can solve for you and the effort required in doing the same. Agile is not a magic solution to all problems. Agile actually makes problems transparent and very quickly too.
Can you create the change in mindset of your organization?
Agile has been called many things – a methodology, a process. But I strongly believe it’s more of an attitude, a culture, an understanding, and a philosophy. Bottom line, Agile is a mindset change. It is not about the processes. People tend to struggle with that by immersing themselves into processes but lose sight of the bigger picture.
Being a scrum master doesn’t make the project successful. The cultural shift is what makes agile successful. Raising the bar for developers where their responsibility doesn’t begin and end with code but truly understanding and embracing the purpose of the project.
Is your organization ready for the transparency that Agile brings?
While some believe that Agile project management fixes your problems, I find that instead, its reveals your problems with such clarity that you have no choice but to fix.
The high visibility on Agile teams causes poor performers to stand out like a sore thumb. In another instance, if you have a track record of generating defects, the agile methodology will put these under a magnifying glass forcing you to implement tighter quality practices. If you have a negative team culture, getting people to work together across the same silos will cause more setbacks until the team dynamics have been sorted out.
Before you go Agile, be sure you are prepared to handle the truth when it is revealed.
Are you approaching Agile in the right way?
It is easy to believe that you are doing Agile right, but it could be completely wrong.
Depth and direction are key in strategizing Agile technologies. The right techniques must be chosen for the current project and every project might have a different and “best” technique. If this is not done, a team might move from waterfall to agile but instead of using the principles of agile properly, move into a “code and fix” method.
How much planning does Agile project management require?
Some people believe that Agile does not require planning. However, the Agile approach requires the right balance of the right amount of process to manage these projects. Agile project management requires a significant amount of coordination to be successful. Every standard agile framework has atleast 4 stages or levels of planning – daily, iteration, release and project. It has a full suite of artifacts called backlogs that are product, iteration, impediment and risk.
The Agile approach is not necessarily the best option for a small and simple low-risk project because a it requires an investment of time and resources to implement the discipline and rigor that the Agile framework needs to be successful.
Does your organization have the discipline to manage the change requests?
Due to the nature of Agile project management, iterations and change requests are the norm. Therefore Agile requires more team and individual discipline, commitment and openness than a dysfunctional organization may be ready for.
What are the implications of requirements management for Agile?
As a part of the Agile approach, the detailed requirements evolve with time. However, sometimes an organization is not ready to work without the detailed requirements. Culturally people may not be comfortable with lack of a detailed requirement document. It is important to make people aware about the same and set expectations accordingly..
How do you prioritize stories?
Agile projects need strategy and prioritization and forefront. Agile teams have a tendency to focus on tactical accomplishments at the expense of strategic goals. This defeats the purpose of putting an Agile framework in place.
In conclusion, Agile requires contemplation before your organization takes a step towards it. Are there any other concerns you have while you ponder the Agile journey?