An endless debate goes on in the Agile-Waterfall dichotomy. The Agile methods are often advocated/criticized by practitioners based upon their success/failure with the methods.
However, I have a different opinion on this. Agile is not a magic spoon. It is not an answer to all your woes. Every project, big or small, throws different challenges to us. We always stand in an arena of challenges in terms of new technology, quality, fighting release dates, high expectations and the list is probably endless. And it is upon these metrics that you should decide if you want to use Agile methods or not. Your decision should be based on its suitability for the organization and the kind of projects.
One more factor that comes into the picture is the adoption of Agile approach by teams who have been following traditional approaches so far. Most of the times, the failure in Agile is due to the lack of effective transformation in the mindset.
In this blog, I would like to highlight the points where every organization faces challenges while adopting agile and how to overcome them-
Team’s resistance to change
The first challenge is to motivate the team to accept the agile mindset. It’s really important to make the team realize how agile would help them overcome the current challenges.
The best part about agile is that the team itself drives the product, the team takes the decisions for the betterment of the product and they own the responsibility for their every decision. This way team becomes more responsible and sincere towards the product. Ceremonies in agile keep the team disciplined and following them religiously will help them in having the complete understanding of the upcoming tasks before they start working on them.
Presence of product owner (PO) during the sprint is equally important for the product success. All time availability of PO keeps the interactions and flow of information continuous, which leads to quick solutions of doubts and the team can stay aligned with the vision of the product. This helps the team get regular feedback on their work. However, that’s only possible when the team stays highly focused on the active sprint goal.
It is also important for the team to have checkpoints like retrospectives and sprint review meetings to analyze their work done in the last sprint so that they can improve upon their weakness.
Setting right estimations
Another big challenge for the team is to estimate their work. I don’t really understand why the world expects the estimations to be exact. Even the definition of estimation states that it’s a rough calculation of the value, number or quantity. But I think agile has made the estimations simpler by introducing the planning poker estimation technique. Following this technique, teams do not feel pressurized while estimating the task in story points.
Nowadays the performance is addressed with a new terminology called Velocity which represents the capability of the agile team. Clients always want to know the velocity of their team, rate at which the team is burning the story points. It solves two problems- one, the client gets to know how many tasks his/her team can pick and deliver in every sprint. Two, it helps in analyzing the rate at which the product is growing which is very helpful in determining the future sprints to complete the features present in the backlog.
Effective Sprint execution
Next thing I would like to highlight is the sprint execution. It is really tricky. If not followed correctly, you might end up squeezing the waterfall method in the sprint. The first thing that must be kept in mind is that the sprint duration should be fixed, it should not be changed in any case. It is important to understand the concept behind the sprint, whatever the task has been taken in the sprint should be developed, tested and verified within the sprint only and must be shippable to the client.
Whatever the things that could block the developers during the sprint cycle like the technical design, UX design should be resolved first before starting it. Some of us feel that it’s risky to try new things in the agile due to the shortage of time, but I say try and fail fast so that you can look up for more options.
Lastly, I would like to say that it’s really important to celebrate every success in the sprints to keep the team motivated. With all these observations I just tried to present that how agile could be the most effective weapon for your glory.
So next time you are caught up between adopting agile or not, think about the problem that you are trying to solve. Agile methodology has its fair share of pain, but if you execute it well, it’s much more rewarding than traditional methods of software development.