Five myths about Agile

Dropping Waterfall for Agile can cost your business if you don't understand the consequences.

Johannesburg, 31 May 2018
Guy Eastoe, MD, Snap Tech International.
Guy Eastoe, MD, Snap Tech International.

While it's all well and good that organisations are looking to Agile development methodologies to improve their project performance, Agile should not be regarded as the cure-all to patch up a failing Waterfall project.

That's according to Guy Eastoe, the managing director of Snap Tech International, who says: "The trouble is, there's a lot of confused managers and consultants out there who think Agile is an easy panacea for patching up their lousy Waterfall project management approach."

If the problem isn't the methodology but the implementation thereof, switching methodologies isn't going to make a difference, says Eastoe.

In addition, with over 50 different flavours of Agile to choose from, it can be difficult for organisations to know where to begin.

He adds: "If the organisation was fairly immature and poor at Waterfall project management, why would it be any better at Agile?"

"The reality is that Agile requires more discipline, more senior management support, great teamwork and a lot more common sense than we realise."

Eastoe says that misconceptions around Agile methodologies abound, and goes on to list five most common ones:

1) We must select one Agile approach at the outset and stick to it.
Eastoe says: "There are many different approaches to Agile, the organisation doesn't need to get fixated about any one approach."

2) We must get rid of our Waterfall thinking.
"Some projects are better suited to Waterfall methodologies than Agile," says Eastoe, "the key is to know the difference up front."

3) Scrum is a good Agile project approach.
"While you can certainly use Scrum within a project, you cannot manage a project with Scrum," he explains.

4) SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) is better than Scrum.
"The two approaches aren't comparable, they're each effective, but have different applications."

5) PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) can't be used in Agile projects.
Eastoe counters: "Once again, this is a wrong assumption to make as PRINCE2 can support both Agile and Waterfall implementations. In fact for a PRINCE2 shop, this can be the best way to iterate and increment your way into Agile."

Eastoe says there are two indicators that an organisation is on the wrong track: "If you're using a BDUF (Big Design Up Front) approach to implement your new Agile methodology, you're barking up the wrong tree as BDUF is more suited to Waterfall projects.

"And the second indicator that your Agile implementation may be taking an 'unagile' amount of time to get off the ground, is your binary desire to find the ultimate, single Agile solution. If you couldn't find the perfect Waterfall approach, why would you assume that there's a perfect one-size-fits-all Agile approach for your enterprise?"

His last piece of advice? "If you're going Agile, start thinking Agile from the start." And while Eastoe isn't saying that it's impossible to move pretty quickly to Agile, it has to be managed properly and done for the right reasons.