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While many understand what Agile is all about, especially people from the software development industry; there are many others that either have never heard about Agile Methodology and practices, or have a faint idea.
To know what Agile is all about, it is important to understand what it is not. It is, therefore, important to know the myths and misconceptions associated with Agile. Today, we will discuss some of the common challenges faced by Scrum Masters while implementing Scrum in the Agile environment.
Top Agile Myths and Misconceptions
Myth # 1 - Agile is a new concept
This is one of the beliefs that most people have. The truth is that the Agile Manifesto has been around since 2001, and the Scrum Pattern language was introduced way back in 1995. Compared to conventional practices like Waterfall, Agile may be new; but considering the number of years it has been more than two decades now - Agile Practice is not new. Some experts feel that the concept of Agile was introduced at the 1968 NATO Conference on Software Engineering where Professor Alan Perlis spoke of 'successive repetition, interlaced testing, and design'.
Myth # 2 - Agile is more effective than conventional methods
It would be wrong to say that a conventional method like Waterfall is less effectual than Agile. The choice and the output depends on the nature of the project and the environmental variables to a great extent.
Myth # 3 - Agile does not need any documentation
This is one of the biggest Scrum Master challenges. This is a wrong assumption people have. The misconception arises from one of the four principles mentioned in the Agile Manifesto - that the working software should be given more impetus than comprehensive documentation. This does not however mean that the practice does not require any kind of documentation. What the principle says is that the focus of the team should be more on delivering a working software product rather than using their time in documentation. Agile says that unnecessary documentation should be avoided; while necessary documentation should be done.
Documentation is a necessity to ensure that the Stakeholders of the project are adequately informed; record decisions made; record lessons learned; report the progress of the project and record performance metrics.
Myth # 4 - There are no deadlines in Agile projects
Another misconception arises from the fact that in Agile, increments can be released at intervals - the concept is right and is meant to serve the customer with increments so that he can keep reviewing the product progress. Also, the increments are in working condition, which means that the customer can use the functionalities delivered - these functionalities keep increasing with each iteration. However, it does not mean that there is no timeline for the project and that it can go on forever. No customer is going to pay for such a project.
Myth # 4 - Agile does not need much planning
This is far from the real facts on the ground. Every project needs planning. However, a project using traditional methods may require more planning at the beginning of the project, whereas in Agile, the upfront planning is lesser. It is important to note here that every iteration in Agile needs to go through the planning process; so, planning is integral to Agile too. If the two methods are compared, an Agile method needs more planning.
Myth # 5 - Agile works only for the software development process
Agile practice was used for the first time by the software development community and even today, it is most widely used during software development. Even the Agile Manifesto mentions the entire process, practice, and policy for software development. But, this certainly does not mean that Agile cannot be used in any other project related to any other specialized domain.
Myth # 6 - Agile practices help resolve all problems in the Software Development Lifecycle
This is not true. Agile comes with plenty of benefits, yes; but it does not have the cure for all issues. The use of Agile Methodology helps in enhancing the collaborative efforts of the team and visibility while minimizing risks. The communication is made efficient and the project progress can be monitored in an enhanced manner with Agile practices.
Myth # 7 - Agile is good only for small projects
This is far from true. Agile makes things easier in handling bigger projects because big projects are broken down into smaller sub-projects that get delivered in shorter iterations. Traditional projects, on the other hand, address the entire project in one go.
In Agile the Development Team is made of small teams. However, if the project is big, multiple teams can be made to focus on different aspects of the product.
Myth # 8 - Agile Methods are not design-based
This is another myth that forms part of Scrum Master's challenges and solutions agenda. Agile frameworks like Scrum are design-based where the designing or the planning aspect is performed at every iteration meeting and not just once, at the beginning of the project, like in conventional methods. In fact, in Agile frameworks, there is more design involved.
Myth # 9 - In Agile there is only one right user story size
This is false. Every team differs and so does the size of every user story. User stories in Agile are usually small-sized and each of these has some value-driven business proposition. These two parameters determine the size of the story. It has been seen that when the team consists of people who are new to Agile methods, need more details, and teams that have experienced members need lesser details. Thus, the size of the user story varies depending on the composition of the team.
Myth # 10 - The two most popular Agile frameworks, Scrumban are always at loggerheads
This is a feeling that many people in the software development field have. Some of them practice either of these frameworks. The truth is that many Agile organizations these days combine Scrum and Kanban to take advantage of the best from both worlds.
Myth # 11 - The Agile ecosystem is so flexible that software developers have full freedom to follow their free will
The actual state-of-affairs is the opposite of this. Agile demands discipline. Some roles lead the process like the Product Owner and the Scrum Master in the case of the Scrum Framework with a very definitive role for each one involved. Yes, team members have the freedom to make decisions and the team per se enjoys a certain degree of autonomy but within the set and defined guidelines and parameters.
Myth # 12 - Agile means Scrum and vice versa
These two are not the same thing. Scrum is a framework but Agile is the practice of the approach. Not all Agile enterprises use Scrum as a framework. It all depends upon the environment and which methodology will help in meeting user needs in the best possible manner.
Myth # 13 - Agile implementation is easy
Any type of change is difficult. Agile does not make anything easy or hard. For organizations following traditional waterfall methods, moving to Agile frameworks can be tough - however, a decision to transition from one to another should be based on the agility of the development team to learn the best practices, and whether or not Agile is the right answer to the enterprise's culture.
Getting the misconceptions cleared at the onset is a good way to get started on adopting Agile Methodology. The faster the team and Stakeholders get the gist of the myths and the reason why they exist, the better it is for the organization's march towards becoming Agile and effective.
Useful Links:Agile Myths And Misconceptions