Agile project delivery – it’s not all plain sailing

74% of organisations report negative impact of agile project delivery methods

There’s no doubt that it’s super trendy to say you have adopted Agile and work with Agile project delivery methods. Certainly in our world of software development, it’s expected this will be a way of working and we wholeheartedly agree it can have huge benefits to your organisation when done right but Agile was never designed to work without structure.

With a general feeling, and from hearing some rumblings of distrust of agile, we commissioned an independent research report exploring Agile Software Development and the results are in.

Although widely used and still regarded fairly well – there is a feeling that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, with 74% of those asked stating that they had experienced a negative impact of adopting agile delivery methods. The most common issues being around difficulties in predicting timelines and costs.

Why is this?

One theory is that agile can create small silos of activity and with one person working on one area, the big picture is not always taken into account. i.e. – what impact does that piece of work have on the overall project? It’s all well and good having one part complete if something that will be part of a future build will impact what has just been done. One analogy we’ve heard here at Pulsion (and our owner likes an analogy)  is that of a car that needs an accelerator pedal. Someone could go off and build that with no indication of the full picture that this pedal can’t be so big it takes up the full space. Then picture the scene two weeks later when it’s realised that a brake was also needed. Oh dear – that accelerator pedal is too big and there’s no room for the brake. The result? Rework. The first pedal built will need to be rebuilt smaller to make room for the second requirement. Rework makes it impossible to predict timelines and costs which is what the results of our report have pointed to.

Ok – that’s an extreme example, but you get our point. Our research revealed that 61% of Public Sector organisations believe that predicting timelines is more difficult and 50% of mid size companies have seen projects over-run.

Agile can’t work with people working in isolation. It can only work if the full end-result has been fully specced out, outcomes agreed and then broken out into the tasks required to deliver and with related tasks identified. The analogy we give, albeit extreme does highlight the issue of rework and the result would appear to support that with 45% of mid-large sized companies stating there has been a slump in morale within their development teams since adopting agile. While in the Public Sector this has led to a decline in inter departmental relationships with 44% stating this was the case.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Agile may have it’s detractors but done right it can be a highly effective tool in project delivery.

Our blog in the coming weeks will focus on more results from the report with our next focus on the impact agile has had on documentation.

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