The Failures and Successes of Agile Development

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A question was recently posted on LinkedIn asking: What are the main drivers behind using agile software development methodology? This has to be the most frequently asked question among those using or considering moving to agile development.

The return on investment for agile has to be measured and justified. I believe there is a notion out there that agile is easy, requires less discipline, and will reap an organization massive rewards. Agile is not easy. Using agile development requires discipline, and its value can’t always be measured in dollars.

After looking at all the posts, I came up with the top three reasons why people go with agile: Products can hit the market faster. There’s improved quality. It’s easier to manage change and change requirements.

However, agile has its detractors and proponents.

Forbes.com lists ten perennial objections from C-Suite executives, which is important because we all must be able to convince upper management that this is a good idea. JTPederson.net breaks the agile issue down to a level that we as developers, project managers, and configuration managers could understand, saying it destroys projects.

Cbronline.com digs even deeper and asks if the Agile Manifesto from 2001 is still relevant today and includes an interview with one of the original signers. Perhaps the most harsh condemnation comes from the analyst firm Voke, who calls agile a scam. The article received some negative comments that were almost as hateful as the Voke Research report itself. Many commentors said the survey’s sample was too small and countered Voke’s findings with their own tales of success.

We have heard from the detractors. To find a recent list of success stories, I suggest you search on "agile development success stories" for long list of blogs and article describing their successes—and challenges.

I take most people’s opinions and feelings with a grain of salt because we all have our own perspectives and the baggage that comes along with those opinions.

So which side are you on? Have all of your agile implementations been successful? What lessons have you learned from your failures?

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Joe Townsend

Joe Townsend has been in the configuration management field for twelve years. He has worked for CNA Life Insurance, RCA, Boeing, UPS, and in state government. Joe has primarily worked with Serena tools, including PVCS Version Manager, Tracker, TeamTrack (Mashups), and Dimensions. He is an administrator for WebFocus and supports Eclipse users.