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Yogi SchulzIs agile software development delivering enough value? Or is agile an exaggerated buzzword that conveniently obscures all attempts at performance measurement of software development teams?

The Agile Manifesto was published a little over 20 years ago. Why have agile concepts not been universally adopted if they are so valuable? Or is agile a fad that somehow managed to stick around a little longer than most fads? Or is it composed of old-school socio-technical methods, such as Deming’s 14 principles of management, which have been fashionably repackaged?

Agile software development methodologies:

  • emerged from frustration with the more traditional waterfall development methodology;
  • are centred around the idea of iterative development;
  • engage individuals and teams to take full ownership of work, find ingenious solutions, and achieve exceptional results.

Benefits of agile methods

The overall value promoted by agile development is faster delivery of higher value functionality, leading to earlier benefits realization. Agile devotees point to these additional benefits:

  • greater ability to respond to change during projects;
  • increased team productivity;
  • improved business/information technology alignment;
  • superior software quality;
  • predictability of software release dates.

Adoption of agile methods

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Are agile methods fully implemented?

Agile devotees sometimes claim they use agile methods when implementing only part of the methodology. An example is running daily stand-ups but using traditional waterfall techniques for the rest of the project.

Critics point out that agile benefits are being hyped because devotees can’t demonstrate they’ve implemented agile methods reasonably fully.

We can confirm how fully agile methods have been implemented by comparing our software development methodology with the Principles behind the Agile Manifesto or one of the many agile software development checklists on the web.

What are we going to see in 2022? Will we see continued relabelling of current software development practices as agile or broader adoption of agile software development?

Collaboration among self-organizing, cross-functional teams

Do agile methods deliver benefits through a superior organization?

Agile devotees claim that self-organizing, cross-functional project teams are the most productive, innovative and customer-focused.

Critics believe that successful software development requires strong leadership from a competent project manager. Some observers believe that self-managed teams spend too much time on consensus-building and allow individual team members to veto decisions, leading to gridlock.

What are we going to see in 2022? Will we see the more traditional leadership of software development teams or broader adoption of agile self-organizing, cross-functional teams?

Company success in software development

Do agile methods deliver more software development success?

Devotees claim that companies that embrace agile software development across organization silos are more successful in software development and their broader business plan.

Some critics see no difference in success rates between agile and other methods. Success can be measured in many ways. Customer satisfaction, revenue, margin and market share are widely accepted metrics. If your company can attribute its improved metrics partly to the widespread use of an agile software development methodology, then agile is delivering value for you.

What are we going to see in 2022? Will we see more companies struggling with software development, or will we attribute more success to adopting an agile software development methodology?

Company culture

Do agile methods deliver benefits by promoting a superior culture?

Agile devotees claim that using an agile software development methodology contributes significantly to a more innovative, creative and productive company culture.

Critics remind us that many factors – such as leadership, management style, customer type, competitive pressure and company size – influence company culture. To claim that agile methods produce cultural benefits is hype.

What are we going to see in 2022? Will we see more companies experience gridlock due to culture clashes, or will we attribute a more productive culture to adopting an agile software development methodology?

Project completion

Do agile methods lead to clearer project completions?

Agile devotees suggest that a project is crisply complete when the items on the product backlog list are of such limited value that no one is willing to recommend any of them for the next sprint. If there’s no next sprint, the project is complete. What could be clearer?

Critics point out that agile projects lack a finite end because team members and stakeholders can add items to the product backlog whenever they see an opportunity. That reality makes it difficult to create a plan with an estimated completion date and budget.

What are we going to see in 2022? Will we see more companies insist that projects adhere to strict budgets and completion dates?

The implication is that software functionality is less important than on-time and on-budget delivery. Or will companies manage less tightly because they realize that most estimates are low-confidence estimates and the benefits of agile methodologies far outweigh traditional methods?

Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of information technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, the need to leverage technology opportunities, and mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy and project management.

Yogi is a Troy Media contributor. For interview requests, click here.

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