Project Management

Agile Problems, Challenges, & Failures

Presentation Challegences CloudAt the “…even mammoths can be agile” conference…, I presented on using some of the practices described in Going agile Project Management Practices  to help with the challenges and problems faced in agile projects.

More about the conference

The conference had about 230 participant. About 90% of the attendees had experience with agile methodologies with about 5% having more than 10 years of agile experience. There was a selection of presentation on the agile opportunities, challenges and case studies. There was also a presentation from Betfiar on their agile experience, which was serendipitous as they are one of the cases in the Going Agile book.

My presentation

I addressed some of the agile challenges and problems in four broadly defined groups. For three of the groups, I described how some of the management techniques described in the book could be used a mitigate the impacts of the issue. The full list of challenges and failures include the following topics.

Communicating, changing culture and mindset

Communication problems, Too narrow communication bandwidth, Communication between dev/product owner, Communication between dev/QA, Company culture, Lack of culture transition, Organization change, Mindset.

Experience making it work

Budgeting, Giving-up too early, Inexperienced Product Owners, Inexperienced ScrumMasters, New to agile, Process not understood, Reinvent agile methodology

Day-to-day operational problems

Back loading documentation, Back loading testing, Decreased visibility of project progress, Effort estimations, Good requirements development, Integration with other systems, Interruptions, Lack of decisions on architecture, Lack of time to fix failed tests, Large projects, Project complexity, Too big/old backlog, Too many meetings, Too many open issues, Too many unplanned tasks, Getting test automated, Regression testing, Agile methods.

Buy-in from management, customers, and team members

Management buy-in, Only developers engaged, Big visible charts are intrusive, Insufficient training, Team does not like showing work, Unwillingness of team, Customer not signing off, Customer fear, Customer won’t commit to agile, External pressure, Getting customer into loop, Getting stakeholders to agree, Departmental fragmentation, Lack of management awareness, No single product owner authority.

Agile is successful

Regardless of the number of issues faced by agile projects, agile projects do not fail more than other projects.  They succeed at the same level as other iterative methodologies.  This was a finding from Scott Amber that I reiterated at the conference.