Agile project management uses an iterative approach to plan and guide projects. It involves completing tasks in small sections called iterations, instead of delivering a comprehensive solution at once. This makes it different from conventional methods such as Waterfall Methodology and Standard software Development Life Cycle(SDLC) which are known to be slow and inefficient in delivering solutions. Agile projects are flexible and efficient, and hence are becoming more popular among CEOs of many multinational companies. These projects also adapt easily to changing needs and detects and deploys business solutions rapidly.
Nonetheless, an Agile project has its own set of drawbacks that can make it fail to meet its user’s needs. These types of projects have existed for more than two decades now, but due to many reasons, most of them fail. This article has compiled 6 reasons why your Agile project fails and how you can prevent this from happening.
1. Your team is unreliable
If your team members don’t attend crucial planning meetings, exhibit team-level resistance, or lack implementation, your Agile project is bound to fail. Agile projects and project management as a whole depends a lot on team member showing up and taking part in planning meetings. In addition, when your team members are still unwilling to follow Agile, your project is most likely to fail. This happens when there are members with strong personalities, thus reluctant to give up on their top positions and continue identifying themselves by functions such as Developer or QA. Other members are uncomfortable following Agile principles since it is required of them to be transparent and make a daily update of progress.
Prevent this from happening by:
Ensuring your team is efficient and reliable. You can achieve this through constant team training and coaching.
- You can also influence the management team and culture through executive leadership.
2. Your scrum master is not skilled
It is rare to find skilled scrum masters. There is a general practice where the role is being played by project managers, which results in many Agile projects falling apart. Developing a mindset of a scrum master takes time, and even other managers never achieve it. Relying on such an unskilled scrum master will lead to the failure of your Agile project.
You can avoid this by:
- Choosing a project manager who is skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced in leading and overseeing projects.
- The chosen scrum master should also be able to execute projects followup.
- Choose someone who can diffuse obstructions and threats that are imminent during the project.
- Be sure to choose a person who can coach clients and stakeholders well. He or she should be able to keep team members safe from politics and distractions.
3. Communication problems between your team members and other stakeholders
Miss-communication is a common problem in an Agile project. The 9th Annual State of Agile Survey found out that 33% of respondents believed one of the reasons why Agile projects fail is communication problems. An Agile project must have clear communication with its stakeholders for it to succeed. Agile project management is an iterative approach of planning, thus has multiple sections completed on a daily basis. If that process lacks proper and clear communication your project will fall apart.
You can prevent it from failing by:
- Ensuring your team feels that they are working towards a common goal.
- Ensure information doesn’t get manipulated on its way from the top to bottom.
- Create transparency among team members, project leaders, and other stakeholders.
- Ensure you form a solid project communication plan and you make it clear to your team and clients what you expect of them.
4. Lack of adequate experience in the Agile project
According to a survey conducted in 2013 by VersionOne, this is one of the top three reasons why Agile projects fail. If the people involved in your Agile project don’t have the sufficient knowledge or experience needed when applying Agile techniques or during transformation, your Agile project will fail. 30% of respondents in the 9th Annual State of Agile Survey said that insufficient training was the cause of failure. The survey found out that insufficient training may arise in 3 ways:
- When nobody receives training,
- When some people who needed training don’t receive it,
- When the training received by the few or everyone is not good enough.
However, you can go around this by;
- Investing in a rock-solid training and coaching for everyone involved in your Agile project as early as possible.
- Ensure your executive leaders get training too to help your team members make use of Agile techniques to the maximum.
5. Your project lacks product owner guidance
Another common reason why Agile projects fall apart is that the product owner lacks the product vision, technical knowledge, and domain expertise to interact with the end-users and development team. Such product owners give poor or no guidance about what business solution needs to be taken which leads to delayed project deadlines.
Prevent your Agile project from falling by:
- Ensuring your product owner is someone who is firm and user-focused.
- They should be able to provide clear guidance towards business solutions.
- They should have domain expertise and understands your product vision and technology.
6. You have poor management support
Your Agile project will fail if it has inadequate support from middle-level management. Executives and team members are always enthusiastic to transform to Agile techniques. However, people such as resource managers, project managers, and program managers don’t receive the transformation with a smile, thus giving poor guidance, which leads to failure.
Overcome this impediment on your Agile project by:
- Playing an active part in facilitating the transformation.
- Leveraging the power of the senior leadership position to ensure even the stubborn members embrace the Agile project.
- Training will also help such members understand the techniques of Agile.
Agile project management is a way of operating that requires patience and determination. Using the above solutions to the challenges facing your Agile project will ensure its success. The benefits of Agile project are many and are worth every effort. With strong executive leadership, transparency, and rock-solid training or coaching, your team should be capable of embracing the Agile project with enthusiasm.