Wednesday, May 23, 2012

5 Agile Myths Clarified

Having discussed about the importance of project management processes in Agile Scrum in my previous blog, let us look at 5 key Agile myths due to which scrum projects fail.
As discussed earlier, for many who are implementing Agile, they feel as if they have found a panacea to all project related problems. It seems like they have found a cure to problems such as delayed delivery, scope creep, poor quality, lack of communication with the customer, improper handling of risks and to top it all, a huge burden of conformance to processes. So, some of the agile followers are so averse to these symptoms in executing a project that they tend to delineate themselves from the basic principles and practices of project management. In fact, Agile is more about following the project management practices in a more disciplined manner…. And if Agile is not implemented in the right way, it will lead to the same problems mentioned above.
So, this gives birth to some myths about Agile and that causes the failure in agile implementation. Let’s look at some key myths…
MYTH 1: Agile methodology is all about interactions and nothing to do with processes:
Many think that Agile is lot to do with teams, collocation and interactions and that processes go out of the window. Actually, the fact is that it is not only about people and interactions, but also about following processes that are necessary and sufficient to help deliver a potentially shippable product in every sprint.
MYTH 2: Agile means no documentation:
Here again, project members tend to think that all we need to focus on is a potentially shippable and workable product and that documentation is an absolute no no. However, the fact is that one needs to maintain certain minimal documentation. Process and checkpoint documentation such as code review checklists, testing results, burn down charts to show progress and simple product documentation are inevitable.
MYTH 3: Agile means no contract negotiation:
While there is more emphasis on Customer collaboration; that does not mean that one does not have any contracts at all. In fact, contracts are equally essential. However, the main emphasis is to remove the environment of distrust and create a win-win situation for both the project team and customer through positive interaction and collaboration.
MYTH 4: Agile means no Plan:
Again, it is all about responding to change instead of following a plan meticulously. Since the whole purpose is to deliver a shippable product with good quality developed over iterations or sprints, one must not forget that it includes sprint planning. A high level Scrum or release planning is also essential to ensure that one is moving in the right direction. However, the key idea is to adapt and change rather than be rigid with excessive planning.
MYTH 5: Agile does not require PMO and HR:
This again stems from the feeling that it is all about scrum collocated teams working for the customer doing iterative development to deliver a quality product. But all this also needs various supporting elements around it from PMO and HR to:
·         Appointing a Scrum coach who has lots of experience in training and coaching the scrum teams at an organization wide spectrum.
·         Focusing on the overall project and product direction. Tracking a high level end to end plan.
·         Providing training across the organization on agile scrum.
·         Providing and maintaining templates, standards and best practices.
·         Rolling up all projects at a programme level and track the ROI for each programme to help take appropriate decisions.
·         Planning out the right career paths, reviewing compensation packages, bringing in the culture of empowered teams that can execute sprints in a collaborative environment.

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