Agile project management and its associated methods and values are rapidly changing how many organizations around the world function. The promise of improved flexibility, greater collaboration and productivity and an enhanced customer connection are understandably tasty-looking carrots to dangle in front of an enterprise’s decision-makers.
Unfortunately, however, running successful Agile projects straight off the bat isn’t a given. In fact there can be considerable challenges with Agile methodology that prevent organizations from adopting it and can even cause major failures, with organizations in the UK alone, for example, losing billions of dollars every year on failed Agile attempts. So what are the major challenges with Agile management and how can organizations overcome them to get the most out of this forward-thinking methodology?
The Major Reasons Why Agile Projects Fail
- Organization not capable of implementing Agile
Moving to Agile project management methodologies is generally rolled out over time. Organizations, depending on their size, might create several or dozens of Agile teams every quarter, constantly monitoring and improving the rollout process. For some businesses, however, this level of organization and coordination is beyond them due to a culture that refuses to accept certain principles, such as limiting extensive protocols and a focus on customer collaboration. This was cited as a reason for Agile project failure by 44% of practitioners in a major Agile survey.
- Weak communication infrastructure
Agile is all about rapid and concise communication, ramping up decision velocity and exchanging information effectively. The term “siloed teams” comes up a lot in Agile literature as something to avoid, as that’s precisely what Agile wants to fight against. For some companies, however, the connections between various teams and levels of management are simply not there – people don’t know who to talk to or how to do so. If communication fails, Agile project management can’t succeed.
Project management software, like Clarizen, is specifically designed to enable Agile-focused communication inside and between teams. Check out a free demo to see how we can improve your organization’s communication.
- Lack of buy-In from management
One of the major challenges with Agile methodology is getting managers on board. This is because Agile demands a more decentralized decision-making process, with individual teams and units being empowered to make the calls they feel they are able to. This lack of control can be viewed as undermining a manager’s authority, which also shows their misunderstanding of Agile’s move to give authority to the people who are capable and in the right position to use it.
- Resistance at team level
It’s not only management that might not vibe with the new methodologies, as at team level it can also be apparent that not everyone wants to be taking on more responsibility. This difficulty in adapting to a changed pace of work and/or new technologies can be a serious inhibitor to the successful implementation of Agile.
- Collaborative teams not gelling
It’s one thing to suggest that a multi-skilled group of people create a team together and it’s another to actually get them to harness that collaborative energy to improve productivity. In Agile, one of a PM’s biggest roles is to ensure that the team is working well together, which requires a deft blend of personal and professional skills. Otherwise, one of the main reasons for implementing Agile simply won’t be worth it.
- Poor Goal Definition
With manager-led projects, the PM can end up shouldering the entire burden of project direction. They let everyone know what they’re supposed to be doing, constantly working between the team and other stakeholders, making slight adjustments to keep the project aligned. With Agile, it’s necessary for everyone to know what exactly they are working towards, as they will need to be capable of making decisions that will achieve those goals.
So, unlike a train with a single driver at the front, an Agile team is more like a rowing team, where everybody needs to get their strokes in sync to ensure success, hopefully without the need for someone shouting at them through a megaphone!