Image indicating Challenges In Agile Projects

The Agile Manifesto was introduced more than a decade back. While IT managers the world over were impressed with the philosophy of Agile development, there was a big hesitation in adopting Agile due to the fact that everyone was used to the traditional standard models with heavy processes and tons of documentation. The last half a decade has seen a great movement towards agile adoption.

The success of agile has been mixed for different sectors. Co-located teams, Internal IT departments, Product companies have seen a reasonable success. Companies that engage multiple vendors to develop products and application tend to get into integration issues that overshadow the benefits of Agile adoption. We have also heard people referring to issues during Agile development and Agile testing

Some of the scenarios that cause a headache are:

  1. Project teams where there are people churn (due to attrition, role rotation, resource optimization due to margin pressures). While the companies tend to mitigate the knowledge retention issue through exhaustive documentation and training, agility is lost, since one of the core Agile principle “Individuals and interactions over Processes and tools” takes a hit
  2. When multiple vendors are engaged to develop different components of a solution, there is a big need for synchronized agile cycles. A mismatch in cycles and timelines could cause issues in agile testing cycle potentially impacting the deadlines and issue resolutions
  3. While Agile encourages last-minute changes from customers, IT managers would agree to the fact that they rarely get the same flexibility on schedule and budget.
  4. Agile promotes close collaboration and self-managing teams. It helps to have teams of similar experience and maturity levels. Organizations that tend to work on a pyramid model of a team will tend to have management overheads.
  5. Since Agility is all about constant pace and sustainable development, Organizations that have specialized practice groups tend to have issues for continuous deployment due to lack of cross-skilling

Some of the steps that can help in resolving the above challenges are:

  1. Identify an Agile coach at the organization level
  2. Create Agile orientation programs/workshops for people
  3. Identify people with at least one year of project experience in any project. They have a better chance of appreciating the Agile benefits over the traditional model
  4. Try to have cross skilled resources – BAs who can create Test Scenarios, Developers who can design and test, etc
  5. For Service provider organizations, keep commercial aspects separate from project execution Ex: A sum total effort of all Sprints might be more than the fixed cost estimates given upfront.
  6. Create Agile PM Kits comprising of guidelines, tools, procedures and templates for easy onboarding
  7. Remember that Agile accommodates late changes, but not indiscriminate changes. Hence have a disciplined change control process in place.
  8. Ensure that the sprint/release milestones are synched up across all vendors if any.
  9. Ensuring continuity of resources will go a long way in knowledge retention and thereby defect prevention
  10. Agile testing requires an integrated connection with the development, hence need to be Integrated well into the Agile model

It is OK to take a couple of sprints to perfect the Agile rhythm, since many organizations have faltered when they pursue Agile Aggressively. Once you are into the groove, Agile is FUN!!!!!

Have a Great Day!!!!!

– Kumareshen Chidambaram