When Not to Use Agile
Agile methodology, postulated back in 2001 in Agile Manifesto by the prominent software developers, has occupied the minds of thousands of project managers around the world. Offering a flexible, reiterative approach to software development, Agile methods suit well for complex projects which change fast during the development process.
When best to use Agile methodology – this question depends on many factors, including the number of available resources (Agile projects are quite demanding), type of development project (some of them work best with traditional development methods), trained professionals (teams members are crucial for a successful Agile project), etc. We have covered strengths and weaknesses of Agile methods in the previous article, so you should definitely take a look at it to understand Agile better.
Here we would like to explain when not to use Agile methods and why:
1. Your project is not very urgent, too complex or novel. Agile methodology is quite demanding, as we mentioned previously, so there is no need to use it for simple or typical projects. They can be easily accomplished with traditional Waterfall methodology. Long cycles, clear development goals, and typical cycles – all of these aspects will make your life easier with traditional methods. Agile methods allow you to create a lasting, well-organized software development process, highly adaptable to the changing requirements and environment. If you have a clear goal and enough time to accomplish your project, this is when you should consider not using Agile development methods.
2. Your team is not self-organizing and lacks professional developers. A well-trained team, aware of Agile principles and practices, is one of the most important aspects for any Agile project. Agile process requires a lot of crucial decisions to be taken by the team members during the project. And if your developers are not experienced and responsible enough, this may ruin the whole project. Do not forget that Agile methods require constant interaction among all stakeholders – development team, testing unit, management and the customer. If one of the teams shows poor performance, this will definitely affect the overall result. If you have doubts as to your development team – this is when you should not use Agile software development, since it can backfire at you at any stage of the process.
3. Your customer requires neat documentation of each development cycle. In many cases, your customer will prefer your company to submit detailed documentation of each phase of the project. These requirements mostly hold for infrastructure applications, which are designed to support a process for a long period of time. Unlike business process applications, which are continuously adapted to the changeable business environment, infrastructure applications will remain unchanged for quite some time. Therefore, they should be clearly structured and supported by profound documentation. If this is the case, avoid Agile methodology, as it relies upon constant interaction and on-the-way adaptations without clear documentation of the development process.
4. Your customer requires approvals at each stage of development. Maybe your customer is a vivid adherent of Waterfall methods and demands you to deliver software pieces for approval at each development cycle. Or maybe you develop software for a bureaucratic organization with strict rules or procedures. Anyway, if your deliverables have to go through a chain of tollgates at every stage, you need to forget about Agile methods. These bottlenecks will kill all the momentum, so crucial for a successful Agile project.
5. Your customer wants you to use the traditional methodology and doesn’t want to hear about Agile. A customer is always right, and in many cases, it is impossible to pursue your client to use a better approach to develop software. Sticking to traditional methods is a comfortable path for the customers, and this is their choice. If you have laid out all the advantages of the Agile methods for the given project and the customer is reluctant to follow you, do not try to use Agile methodology against his will. Without your customer’s continuous feedback and high involvement in the development process, your project will be doomed to fail.
6. Your organization does not invest in spreading Agile practices among the developers, testers, and management. Some organizations prefer to work with the customers who stick to the traditional development practices. And when the time for Agile arrives, it turns out that the communication links and resource base for a successful Agile project is lacking. Try to avoid resorting to Agile methods with a poor foundation, as it will negatively reflect upon your work. If you are a true fan of Agile ideology, try to find and create a good team of like-minded developers.
Regardless of its huge popularity among the software developers and many advantages, Agile methodology should not be used for every project you encounter. A thorough planning should be accomplished at the start of any Agile project to understand if you have enough resources, a powerful team and a real need to use this set of development practices. Do not take Agile methodology as a panacea which will make any of your development projects a huge success. If you are not sure about your prospects with Agile practices, stick to the traditional approaches, as they are more straightforward.