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October 24, 2017

3 Reasons Why Agile Projects Fail

2 mins read

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.


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:

  • Leaders Who Don’t See the Value. Adopting Agile, even on a project-by-project basis, requires commitment from an organization, including time and resources, to do work in a different way. Without buy-in from leadership, it’s difficult to get the necessary organizational support to make the transition.
  • The Team that Isn’t Ready. A transition to Agile can unlock concerns and fears that, if left unchecked, can become major barriers to change. Whether it’s the team’s attachment to established ways of working or individual fears about having the right skills to stay relevant, it’s important to ensure that the team is prepared for change in order to see success.

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.


Learn how you can make your Agile adoption work for you and your team in our eBook: A Guide to Making Your Agile Adoption Work For You.

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