In today’s complex business landscape it is vital that businesses stay flexible, and therefore, even IT systems in place needs to as flexible as possible. In this regard, Agile allows enterprises to respond to the dynamic opportunities and challenges of the business world where IT is one of the key enablers to push forward.
The 12 Agile principles as per the Agile Manifesto has found widespread acceptance. This Agile manifesto accommodates various other delivery and governance frameworks such as extreme programming (XP), Scrum and others.

Top 10 Misconceptions of Agile Development

Be it any new framework or methodologies, there are bound to be misconceptions and myths which gains traction over a period of time.

  1. Agile is New and Unfamiliar:

    This is not true. Agile has been there for a long time, since the late 80s and early 90s, this means the framework is more mature and lot more familiar to professionals across the globe. In this age of variability in technology and global market demands, Agile is all about adaptation to dynamic environments.

  2. Agile Implementation is a Cake Walk:

    Often enterprises feel implementing any new framework or methodology will be a cake walk, and then realize it is not that easy. Organizations somehow make simple things complex.
    The problem is, organizations implement Agile framework “by the book” and without understanding transformational and cultural complexities. Hence, most of the times Agile implementation fails, or they achieve limited success with greater cost margin. It would be better to effectively manage the transformation and cultural complexities while implementing Agile.
    Such organizations will fail to realize the benefits of Agile. The scenario will be like, you can theoretically learn to drive a car by reading a book, but do not expect others to sit next to you while you are driving for the first time.

  3. Agile Gives you Instant Results:

    As an organization, expecting instant results in any form will always be short lived. And it is the same with Agile implementation as well, we know that transformation to Agile will deliver huge benefits, but it comes through many learning curves over a period of time. When organization and its key personnel are learning, you might see a drop before it changes to an upward trajectory to achieve improved delivery capability in critical processes.

  4. Agile is Devoid of Documentation:

    This misconception / myth stems due to the misrepresentation of Agile Manifesto which states “We value working software over comprehensive documentation”. It is important to understand here is that the manifesto does not say documentation is not required entirely, but it says the focus is more towards building working software than spending more time towards creating detailed documentation up front.
    Agile development is about creating business-beneficial documentation which helps the business to use the product effectively and the team to support and maintain it. It would be a complete failure and inappropriate to not produce any sort of documentation and would be a clear cut example of technical debt.

  5. Agile = put some code together with little thought of Architecture or Design:

    In fact, one of the Agile principle in the ‘Agile Manifesto’ states that “continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility”, and various Agile frameworks provide you the tools and techniques for the Agile team to produce robust and high quality code. For instance, in extreme programming (XP), there are many practices that are specifically aimed to ensure the quality of the product is being delivered which is fit for purpose and also one that can be evolved down the line with few minor tweaks.

  6. Agile is the Only Solution for all Complicated IT Problems:

    Agile offers many benefits in today’s service-based IT environment, but Agile is not the answer for all IT problems. There is no single answer for all the IT problems, but by integrating different frameworks and methodologies, they provide only a part of the answer. The implementation of Agile framework must be realistic, where real-world scenarios are recognized with transformational and cultural complexities of an organization. Stop thinking Agile as a magic wand which offers solutions for all complicated IT problems.

  7. You can just Read a Book and Implement Agile:

    There is a widespread misconception that you can just read about Agile and then start implementing it. As explained earlier, theoretically you can read a book and learn to drive, but do not expect people to sit next to you on your first drive. Yes there are top books and other reading materials for Agile, but theoretical knowledge cannot replace the practical experience in enabling Agile mindset in an organization.

  8. Agile is only about Software Delivery:

    Because Agile Manifesto describes Agile only in the context of software delivery it does not mean it cannot be applied elsewhere in different business environments. Agile has found widespread acceptance in today’s complex business environment that experiences unpredictability and responds through incremental and iterative approach.

  9. Agile will Replace Everything in one Shot Transformation:

    If you implement Agile framework in one shot across the length and breadth of the organization in the form of large projects and programs, there is a risk of not completely realizing the benefits of Agile implementation. When the transformational change is not closely monitored due to the scale of implementation, the organization and the staff will function in the same old manner while believing that they have moved away from traditional method to Agile.

  10. Agile Needs no Planning Whatsoever:

    This is one of the major misconceptions where people think Agile needs no planning and you can just go ahead and do it. In fact, it is the other way around, Agile frameworks need frequent and evolutionary planning.
    For instance, when a team is working on a project and there is no need of customer inputs for more than a couple of weeks while creating a product, the team will be planning in single iterations/sprints. But, if the customer does ask for a detailed explanation of when the product will be delivered, timeline and cost, then the team will plan for releases containing iterations/sprints.
    With release plans, teams will have to get high-level agreement as to what product is being delivered at what time and cost. And with changes down the line, project stakeholders and the customer will re-evaluate the plan in an ongoing manner.
    So, Agile is not ‘just do it’, it requires careful planning with regards, timeline, budget and various other project aspects. When an Agile project is initiated, it requires high-level baseline definitions as there might changes down the line as more and more is understood about the product.

These above mentioned top 10 misconceptions about Agile can act as a significant obstacle for anyone who is trying to implement Agile framework in their organization. By recognizing the information published in this post, you will stand a better chance of yielding significant results with the implementation of Agile.

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Billie Keita
Billie Keita is known for her exemplary skills in implementing project management methodologies and best practices for business critical projects. She possesses 10+ years of experience in handling complex software development projects across Europe and African region. She also conducts many webinars and podcasts where she talks about her own experiences in implementing Agile techniques. She is a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and PMI Project Management Professional (PMP)®, and has published many articles across various websites.


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