Did you know that seven in every ten US businesses now use Agile? This framework has come a long way since its inception around two decades ago.
But while Agile may be effective, it doesn’t magically turn any project into a perfect one. You’ll still discover challenges along the way.
Here are the most common issues you might face as an agile team on your next project, plus some tips about overcoming them.
Agile project management is a popular methodology but represents a significant change from current practices for many professionals. Moreover, adopting Agile on the fly without knowledge isn’t realistic or advisable.
So one of the earliest challenges you’ll face is getting everyone trained fully on Agile methodology.
And to implement it fully, you need to consider training your support teams (like line managers and customer service teams) in addition to your core development team.
Practical and effective training will ensure everyone is on the same page, applying the Agile approach consistently across the organization.
Though Agile is relatively established nowadays, it still requires a change to business culture in many departments and industries.
Many people find it hard to approach a project that isn’t linear (with a planned start and definite end date.) That can lead to some people feeling naturally resistant towards Agile as a method.
The key to addressing culture change is buy-in from management and key stakeholders.
And the secret to winning these managers over is to talk about the significant financial benefits of an Agile approach, such as being first to market with innovative products.
That way, they are more likely to embrace the Agile team processes your business needs to realize those benefits.
Agile should, in theory, aid communication. The methodology embraces a flat business structure, so you won’t have the frustrating need to send an issue “up the chain.” It’s about getting together, talking, and problem-solving instead.
However, on the flip side, communication isn’t always formal on an Agile project. And the main problem with verbal communication is that either party can misinterpret it.
So though Agile should help with communication, keep an eye out for pitfalls. When making decisions as a team, keep a written record wherever possible, even if it’s only on a messenger chat facility.
It’s fair to say that every ambitious project would welcome a bigger budget. But with an Agile project, it isn’t easy to quantify your work and put it into a more traditional format for a budget (such as a business case.)
That’s because it lacks the detailed early planning phase that traditional projects use to estimate their budget and write their business case.
So does that make it impossible to get a generous budget? Not necessarily.
The beauty of Agile is that instead of writing a business case containing many assumptions, you can prove your financial benefits early on during the initial delivery phases of your project. That gives you actual financial numbers.
Bearing that in mind, the best way to secure the budget you need is to try and get that money in stages, each time proving your worth by demonstrating the benefits of what you’ve delivered so far.
In addition, secure a contingency budget to support you with issues along the way. When you have a contingency pot of money, you won’t have to continually return to the budget holder to ask for more funds every time you have a project issue.
Another challenge you might face on your project is a shortage of resources. In a perfect world, an Agile scrum team would have dedicated people working full time on that project.
In reality, this isn’t always the case. You will probably need short-term specialists you can call on at specific times in the project.
But will those people be available when you need them? Or will they be busy working on other projects for the business? The answer is probably the latter.
Good resource management on an Agile project involves keeping a close eye on what you need in the coming days and speaking with resource managers as soon as possible.
Build a strong relationship with these managers to ensure you get those resources on time.
There is a common misconception that an Agile project doesn’t need a formal set of requirements.
While these projects generally don’t use detailed and formal requirements documents, you still need to do some work from the outset to precisely define what the customer needs.
To do this well, get input from various team roles involved when establishing requirements to think through ideas, raise issues and develop alternatives.
And remember that the key to an excellent Agile delivery is to be flexible, so make sure you limit any set-in-stone requirements from the offset.
Agile projects are exciting and dynamic. When done well, you’ll have a motivated team working at pace to deliver something impressive for the customer.
Unfortunately, stakeholders sometimes use this impressive display of early delivery to set unrealistic expeditions on what they want to be done and by when.
And on the other hand, it can make some teams overly confident about what they can deliver. They may ignore potential risks and downsides and add ambitious features that end up causing more problems than they solve.
Keep an eye out for any overconfidence in the project. Even a straightforward project needs to be fully mindful of any risks that could cause problems further down the track.
So always take a step back from any success to re-examine your goals and ask yourself honestly whether you need to add a few contingencies.
Is Your Agile Team Ready for a Challenge?
As you can see from these challenges, most issues when working as an Agile team are easily managed when you know how. The key to staying on top of your Agile project is anticipating the problems that might lie ahead.
At Nizek, our team has a wealth of experience delivering exceptional projects using the Agile framework. Why not get in touch with us today to tell us about your needs?