Five Reasons Why Agile Can Fail

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Unfortunately, some projects fail, even when using an agile development methodologyInstead of just rehashing horror stories, I will attempt to get to the bottom of why these failures occur. Why is this important? While it is painful to look into the reasons why projects fail, it can be helpful to ensure future success—just as long as it doesn’t become a finger-pointing blame game. Here’s my list of some reasons why agile sometimes fails.

1. Upper Management Dooms Agile
Management buy-in and reasonable expectations should be anticipated; unfortunately, that is not always the case. TechTarget.com gives us four reasons why CEOs hinder agile. The same could be said of all upper management as well. Upper management’s false hopes concerning agile could pull the plug on your efforts before true savings can be realized.

2. Your Organization Has a Culture of Mediocrity
Sometimes projects fail long before they are started. If you have bad practices or a culture of mediocrity, as this article points out, agile will bring those issues to the surface.

3. People or Human Resource Conflicts
A blogger on Mindjet points out several human resource or people failures that can ruin your agile projects. The blogger points to two other resources for why this failure occurs. Remember, having the wrong people in the wrong positions making the wrong decisions is a sure path to failure. It’s often difficult to approach people because of politics, pride, and plain old-fashioned fear.

4. IT and Business Distrust Each Other
The distrust between IT and business is both a cultural and human issue, but I feel it also deserves to be mentioned separately, as a writer did on ovationsgroup.com. Another writer finds the top two reasons for agile failures are the presence of a negative organizational culture and the difficulty of finding people with the right skills; these could be the reasons why there is mistrust between IT and the business.

5. IT Operations Is Considered an Afterthought
An article on InformationWeek points out how some organizations do not realize that operations departments can be responsible for agile failures. The article discusses adding the operations group to the mix. This is rarely mentioned but is very important; too much emphasis is put on the development group. It’s not good if an organization considers IT operations as an afterthought.

Conclusion
I
leave you with an online video that looks at many more reasons why agile fails. It ties everything together on agile failure, including some of the reasons above.

Why have your agile projects failed? How are you going to make sure they are successful?

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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.