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Why Agile Projects Fail

Imagine this. Your team, which has used a traditional waterfall approach for as long as anyone can remember, is eager to adopt Agile practices. You know that Agile can help the team deliver higher quality products more rapidly, maximize value, and reduce overall risk. And the team seems to have all the right ingredients for […]

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October 24, 2017

Imagine this. Your team, which has used a traditional waterfall approach for as long as anyone can remember, is eager to adopt Agile practices. You know that Agile can help the team deliver higher quality products more rapidly, maximize value, and reduce overall risk. And the team seems to have all the right ingredients for success – highly qualified individuals, a clear objective, and the time and resources to get the job done. But just a few months into this new way of working, your team is frustrated, behind schedule, and failure seems inevitable.

Why?

Agile projects fail for many reasons, but don’t give up just yet. Here we outline three common challenges faced by those brave souls bringing the benefits of Agile to non-Agile environments.

1. Lack of Buy-In

Lack of buy-in comes in two forms:

Organizational norms take time to develop. Buy-in from leaders that trickle down to the team level is one of the most effective tools to ensure a team is ready to take on an Agile project successfully.

2. Lack of a Clear Product Owner

Effective Agile Scrum teams have core roles that must be fulfilled in order to be successful. A team that is lacking a clear product owner is missing one of the most critical ingredients to project success.

By definition, a Product Owner’s primary responsibility is to represent the needs of the customer by keeping key capabilities and desired outcomes in mind, which keeps the team on track towards delivering the best possible solution. Without a Product Owner, it’s easy for teams to lose sight of the needs of the customer and for the product to become misaligned with the business needs of the organization.

3. Lack of Experience and Training

While a lot of people talk about using Agile, there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about Agile concepts. Teams with little Agile experience and inconsistent training lack the baseline knowledge necessary to apply Agile techniques and methodologies effectively.

Making the shift to Agile is complex. In our next installment, we discuss ways to avoid falling into these common pitfalls.

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