Addressing the Weaknesses of Agile Development

September 02, 2016

Dark-Agile-Manifesto-Anti-Agile-Manifesto-Intland-Software-336x336 Addressing the Weaknesses of Agile Development agile Once and a while we come across customers who complain about Agile Methodology.  No matter the complaint, more often than not it is dismissed as the fault of the customer for not implementing Agile Methodology correctly, as if by doing so, then all problems would be magically resolved.  The reality is somewhat different.  Unfortunately the weather is never sunny 100% of the time, what I mean by this is that the ideal conditions are rarely met for Ideal Agile all of the time, for a variety of reasons (will come back to this later).  There is no question that when done right, Agile provides huge performance and quality gains, but the right mix of Agile must be implemented, – ideal for your organization.  Agile is fragile, unrealistic in its requirements and expectations and therefore it has many common breaking points which might be considered as disadvantages of Agile Methodology. It is here at these fracture points that changes need to be made to make it work effectively for your business model (again).

The right Agile model for your business is a complex equation based upon a myriad of different factors including company culture and tradition, personalities involved, management style and the nature of the project to name but a few. Vigilance is key, the state of Agile requires constant monitoring for it to remain effective and if your business finds it is straying from the path, – which tends to be obvious (if you are vigilant) where the chosen Agile model breaks more frequently than it should at specific stress points.  Here at these fracture points its time to import processes from an alternative Agile approach to address these failings with the aim of being a little more Agile, or a little bit less.  Whatever works for you, – and remember Hybrid is not a dirty word (accept to Agile purists).

Common Agile Stress Points (causes of problems) To be Aware of.

  • Project Scope Creep – Agile is flexible, watch out you might get more than you bargained for, what I mean by this is that changing requirements by definition means that feature creep is acceptable as long as it does not hold up releases. If it does hold up releases then its time for a change in Agile approach.
  • Inactive user representative – Agile requires Active user engagement and close collaboration; without it opportunities will be missed. Make it easy for user representatives to be active at times when it suits them rather than you.
  • Lack of Predictability makes it difficult to estimate costs and to fix timescales. Consequently potential clients often consider any business case as overly lightweight which can make it harder to win business.  If you suspect your business plans are lacking then its time to change approach to doing them.  Where possible use appropriate figures obtained from similar previous projects.
  • Lightweight Requirements or inadequately recorded Requirements can cause big problems. This is probably the greatest criticism of Agile Methodology, the lack of upfront planning – most notably by individuals that are not used to doing it.  Ideally, less up-front documentation saves time and money, especially when the change in requirements is extreme and constant.  Failure to record changes effectively can be catastrophic for any project and is cited as a leading cause of project failure; a failure of requirements management.  Why is it so important?  Because all testing is done against requirements and therefore without properly maintained requirements, testing will fail the projects objective although meeting technically the testing of requirements.  It is essential to have an effective digital documents management system in place to record all documents changes and it is vital to choose an Agile model that fits with your business requirements and the frequency of expected change.  If the expected amount of change in requirements is low then it makes sense (is better) to do more upfront documentation.
  • Increasing Complexity – Software is becoming increasingly complex as manufacturers are becoming increasingly reliant on software to provide new features for products. Consumers expect more so software must deliver more.  Your development teams must be equipped to be able to Scale-up, transitioning from tools such as GitHub to enterprise solutions that can track millions of dependencies quickly and simply.

How to Address Agile Weaknesses with Application Lifecycle Management Software

All of these problems can be avoided with the use of a holistic Application Lifecycle Management software (ALM Software), specifically codeBeamer ALM.  codeBeamer ALM provides collaboration features and access control to manage stakeholder relationships providing access to them on their schedule. Complete traceability and transparency on all changes in documentation and code ensure the team has everything it needs to own tasks, collaborate efficiently and manage the project effectively. Automated testing is a dream taking the tedious time consuming tasks out of the to do list, ensure costing coding errors are not left to get worse. Lastly codeBeamer ALM enables your team to scale-up, although we recommend the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) we are not limited to it, flexible for use with all kinds of Agile Frameworks but also Hybrid Models of Development.


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Eva Johnson

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Eva is an Economist (MSc) and also holds an MBA in Marketing Communications. She has over 10 years of experience in journalism, digital media communication and project management working with several multinational companies and governmental institutions. You will find her blogs posts on a variety of subjects from Agile-Waterfall Hybrid, Scrum to DevOps.

Eva Johnson has written 132 posts for Intland Software.

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