Agile / Software-Entwicklung

What “agile software development” isn’t…

“Agile” is at the height of fashion at the moment – but not just in the IT world – modern businesses should be agile as well. Unfortunately sticking the word agile in front of everything (project management, requirements engineering, portfolio management, business, testing, etc.) seems to have confused the message a little.  So in case you’re suffering from an overdose of agility at the moment, here’s my personal list of a few things that “agile software development” isn’t!

agile software development_sketch_anecon

It is not a panacea

Agile software development is not some “Wunderheilmittel” which will cure all project ills in one fell swoop.  Switching to agile development (a major challenge in itself) will not result in projects suddenly coming in on-time and in-budget.  In fact the very introduction of agile methods is liable to delay projects in the short-term.  However, it is a methodology which, if understood and used correctly, will lead to significant improvements over time.  But if you think you’re agile by making one of the developers a part-time scrum master (or combining scrum master and product owner roles, making the group leader the scrum master, etc.) – then you’re going to end up with a bigger mess than before!

It doesn’t make developers more productive

Agile software development does not necessarily make developers more productive.  The removal of impediments by a scrum master can help to free up more time.  However, the main benefit is that it focuses the developers on the features of the product which bring the most value to the business.  From a business perspective this is a major benefit as the product doesn’t have to be feature complete before releasing it.  Rather than being tied to a long-term release schedule, the business can react to changes on an iteration basis rather than wait for major project milestones.

It isn’t some navel-gazing self-discovery exercise

Sometimes it sounds like that introducing agile software development is akin to starting a therapy group for the development team.  There’s a lot of talk about systematic coaching, autonomy, self-organisation and empowerment.  I’m the first to admit that if it’s introduced correctly then the whole team should feel empowered and will probably enjoy more job satisfaction.

However, in my experience companies underestimate the change required to introduce agile methodology.  Then you frequently end up with a hodge-podge of agile and traditional project methods.  This can leave the job equally frustrating as it was before – possibly more so if you actually got a feeling for the potential that agile methods offer!

It isn’t just for developers

Agile software development does not just effect the development teams.  In fact at a bare minimum, a team should consist of a product owner from business, a scrum master, the development team and if it doesn’t include testers then it isn’t agile.  In an ideal situation operations is also involved.  A smoothly running team should be delivering potentially shippable code at the end of every iteration – which means that not only does it bring business value, but is also thoroughly tested and immediately deployable.  This requires a holistic approach to achieving business goals which recognises the path from planning product features to making them available to customers.

So if you aren’t prepared to look at changing your organisation as a whole, agile may not be the solution for you.

There is no doubt that a successful transition to agile development is a major benefit for any business.  However, when the concepts are poorly understood and the expectations are unrealistic then the potential of agile development may result in disappointment and frustration.  But not to fear – help is at hand!  Or at least we’ll go through some of the basics for successfully adopting agile development in a future blog post 😉


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  1. Hi, thank you for this post I agree with you that Agile software development is not some “Wunderheilmittel” which will cure all project ills in one fell swoop. Switching to agile development (a major challenge in itself) will not result in projects suddenly coming in on-time and in the budget. very useful information