By Matthew Colaprete
Due in large part to its regular, short cycles, agile software development is quickly becoming one of the most common software development techniques used today.
Increasingly, organizations opt to take this approach over the long, protracted release cycles used in the once popular waterfall methodology. Agile affords business stakeholders and customers the opportunity to become more involved in the software development process. It also allows for frequent feedback that results in a higher quality final product. Agile allows stakeholders the flexibility to adjust to shifting priorities within an organization and/or market, and many clients can benefit from applying these lean concepts. The numerous advantages that agile provides range from simple process efficiencies to multi-million-dollar cost savings and augmented revenue generation.
While there are plenty of benefits that come with implementing agile within an organization, the method also has many myths associated with it. Here we discuss top agile myths frequently heard among agile consultants.
Myth One: There is No Planning in Agile
Planning is necessary for agile to be effective, just as in waterfall. One primary difference in planning between agile and waterfall is that the former follows incremental planning.
The initial phase of planning for a project, which takes place in the release planning meeting, can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the scope of the work effort and experience of the agile team. As part of the agile process there are particular ceremonies to assist with planning. These include daily standup meetings, backlog grooming sessions, and sprint planning meetings. Throughout the software development process, agile teams have plenty of points that they can use to alter their plans adequately to meet shifting requirements and/or business needs.
Myth Two: There is No Documentation in Agile
Yes, a does produce documentation despite the approach being different from waterfall.
Documentation appears in the form of user stories and acceptance criteria. Instead of lengthy RSDs with hundreds of requirements, agile breaks work down incrementally and into smaller chunks, documenting the requirements in a just-in-time fashion. This allows for requirements to be written as they are prioritized, while not having a long shelf-life from the time they are documented to the time they are implemented.
Myth Three: Agile Requires Co-Location of Stakeholders and Agile Teams
There’s no doubt that agile emphasizes a substantial amount of stakeholder involvement, from the business partners in particular, throughout the development process. Still, the notion that all team members must be co-located in order to achieve success remains a false one. Certainly face-to-face communications is a central pillar of the agile philosophy, but thanks to modern technology—such as teleconference systems and enhanced agile tracking tools—real-time meetings and discussions can be easily facilitated.
Myth Four: Agile is Less Disciplined Compared to Waterfall
It’s standard practice for many early adopters of agile to struggle with the management and execution of the meticulous agile procedures and ceremonies. Yet, as teams and organizations become more adept in their agile practices, the benefits of its repeatable approach to implementing software reveal themselves. This is because there are many safeguards woven into the agile process to prevent limitless release cycles and “scope-creep.”
Myth Five: Agile Solves All Software Development Challenges
Poor execution of a software development technique is just one in a myriad of reasons why technology projects fail. For organizations gauging a transition to agile, it’s vital for them to consider why they want to make the change. This is crucial because every organization has a unique set of needs, and agile may not be the best approach for meeting those needs. Certain organizations have projects that would make breaking down work into smaller portions and delivering this work incrementally quite the obstacle.
Another substantial challenge to the agile transition is the cultural transformation that comes with it. This is a process that requires a good deal of time and effort and is not something easily accomplished by some organizations. SW
Matthew Colaprete is the principal consultant for technology strategy at CTG.
Jun2016, Software Magazine