Why Agile Development Fails and How to Fix It

Put simply, agile development is the process of building and delivering software iteratively. Agile methodologies include solutions according to customer's feedback, provided by cross-functional teams. The collaboration of these self-organized teams result in incremental delivery instead of delivering the software all at once. 

The benefits that agile development brings to big companies are quite significant. According to a survey done by PWC, agile software development had a 28% higher success rate compared to the traditional approach that was falling behind agile development. The lower success of the conventional method is because the needs and expectations of the users don't match. There is an actual gap between the current needs and the final product. Sometimes the software development will require several years, responsible for creating this gap. 

Agile software development is different because it doesn't lack feedback as the standard method. On the contrary, the continual work, changes and updates should meet the expectations and needs of the users. Thus agile software development will bring about certain advantages, but comes along with several challenges along the way. 

In this article, we'll share some of the most common mistakes that are made with agile development and are responsible for its failure. Once you become aware of these mistakes, you can try to avoid them or provide a solution more quickly. Here are the six reasons why agile development fails and how to fix them.

#1. Lack of agile development experience

If you don't have experience with agile software development, it doesn't mean you don't have to try it out. However, the chances for failure are 44% according to the respondents of the 9th Annual State of Agile Survey. The collapse mostly happens because teams that have no experience with agile methods have a difficulty parting with the old ways. Sometimes implementing every agile principle or making quick decisions can be difficult if the team worked only with traditional software development. 

To surpass this issue, you have to invest in management and a team that is easily adaptable, flexible and welcomes changes and novelties. What's also essential is a reliable training process that can help dedicated teams turn agile, quickly and easily. If you are unable to build or hire such a group, then agile software development will most likely fail. 

#2. Lack of team collaboration and trust

Miscommunication can happen in any project. However, this shouldn't be the reason for the lack of collaboration of creating mistrust within the team. Since the process of agile software development is quite dynamic, it's vital to be transparent and open about any uprising issues.

There also have to be reasonable deadlines by the management for the team to be able to provide quality work. Once the leaders and every member of the team have the same goal in mind, there is less risk for failure in agile software development. 

#3. Weak leaders and shaky management

Whenever you are choosing a ScrumMaster to be the leader of the agile project, you have to make the right choice. The leader is the example the team should follow. Choosing a strong leader is someone that the team can trust, approachable and actively working toward solving any upcoming issues. 

Leaders who try to control the team by micromanaging them is what will bring a lack of transparency within the project and doom it to failure. Also, the opposite of a leader who micromanages is a leader who is not engaged in anything. Such a person can demotivate the team or make them lose interest as well. The right leader would be someone who is passionate about the work they do and inspires all of the team members as well.

#4. Insufficient Training

If the team, as well as the management, doesn't receive proper training, you can't expect wonders. First of all, make sure that everyone who needs receives training. You can test out the team and see whether some of them don't need the practice. Second, make sure that the training is worthwhile. It has to bring value to the team and prepare them for the upcoming specific task. Third, check out the outcome of the practice by providing some tests. 

#5. Complex project requirements

The more complex the agile software development project is, the longer time it would take to be completed. Therefore, more issues can arise. In this case, the ScrumMaster has to plan by dividing the project into smaller stories.

Eventually, with an excellent prior plan, all the upcoming issues will be more easily sorted out. This way, high costs can be avoided due to fewer changes that would have to be made during iterations. Sometimes there are significant changes in the features in the late stages of a project. So, in this case, the wisest thing to do is to extend the deadline and add other iterations. 

#6. Lack of testing strategy

Most of the time, the testing in agile projects isn't fully understood. In agile projects, the skills of the tester change as well as the role of the tester. Also, iterative testing inspects features that aren't "fully completed" looked by a traditional mindset. Therefore, changes within the quality assurance teams have to be done, while integrating regression testing to check the already built features.

If you fail to understand the importance of a testing strategy along with specific training for your QA team, you are risking to experience failure in your agile software development project.

In Summary

Despite being praised for bringing better results to businesses, agile software development still has several tricky failure points every team should know. Preparation, planning, training, getting the grip of what agile development is, and what it consists of are some of the essentials. You have to be prepared to face the most common mistakes mentioned above and learn from others about the various ways to fix them.

Eugene is our web developer and SEO specialist.

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