Monday, January 18, 2016

Top six reasons for failure of Agile projects

VersionOne does an annual "State of Agile Development" survey and publishes the results. You can get a copy by signing up with your email address.

I recently read through the latest (9th) annual survey results and my interest was peaked by the data on reasons why agile projects have failed. I decided to have a look at the reports of the last five years and compiled an average ranked list.

The top 6 reasons of failed agile projects according to the survey averaged over the last 5 years (with the latest ranking between parentheses):

1. "Lack of experience with agile." (1)

2. "Company philosophy or culture at odds with agile core values." (2)

3. "A broader organizational or communications problem" (6)

4. "External pressure to follow traditional waterfall processes." (4)

5. "Lack of support for cultural transition." (5)

6. "Lack of management support." (3)

What is interesting to see is that there has not changed much in the list over the years. Lack of experience with agile is cited almost every year as the number one or number two reason for failure. And the company philosophy or culture being at odds with agile core values is also mentioned almost every year as the number one or number two.

What I like about this list is that it shows very clearly that in order to succeed with agile you have to transform an organisation and not just a development team. This is especially true in larger organisations. A lack of experience you can compensate with training, coaching and mixing internal teams with external developers/testers that have experience with Agile projects. The rest have to come from within the organisation and will require organisational change and resisting pressure from external sources. And this is only possible when you have management support on the highest levels.
Posted on Monday, January 18, 2016 by Henrico Dolfing