12% of Agile projects in the UK, and 21% in the US fail completely. Most failures are attributed
to lack of adequate documentation (44%) and road-mapping (34%).
Adoption struggles are so cruel that half (50%) of the CIOs surveyed now consider Agile
to be a passing ‘IT fad’, fueled by Agile consultancies who have been ‘an industry in its own right’ (73%).
The results show that Agile has passed the peak of the hype cycle. Organizations are now
more skeptical towards over-enthusiastic consultants, taking success for granted.
They now realize it takes serious work to make it work. To go Agile, you need experienced
practitioners, lessons from previous failures and successes, and, if your IT is large, a scaling framework.
Here are a few key findings, and my take on their interpretation:
Agile is mainstream
Agile delivery is not ‘new’ anymore, while Waterfall is getting older every day.
More than half of CIOs (52%) are using Agile for all their projects. Only 7% report that
they will not run any Agile projects during the next year. It seems that Agile has overtaken
Waterfall as the primary delivery method. Nice to be on the highway.The question is,
has also Agile culture (focus on people vs processes, frequent feedback vs long term planning,
self-organization vs. hierarchical decisions, cross functional teams vs. silos, etc.) overtaken
traditional corporate culture? Sadly, the report does not answer this question -but my guess
is no – we are still on the dirt road here.
Scaling Agile is not trivial. It is also critically necessary.
Use a scaling framework to scale Agile. Or invest to find your own way.
On the question “Have you had any experience with Agile at scale?” only 5% respond negatively.
If you are serious about Agile, you must scale it. The ‘scaling’ model starts to reveal the
complexities involved. “Multiple products to multiple teams”, is more frequent (62%),
than “multiple teams to one product” (50%), whereas “multiple products, one team”
gets 30%.Now “Multiple products to multiple teams” is considerably more complex in terms
of operating model than “multiple teams to one project”. That means that the organization
will need a well-established, clear and comprehensive Agile operating model
(or invest considerably to create its own).
That is one of the reason for SAFe’s growing popularity. Simpler frameworks,
assuming one product per team (e.g. Nexus) might not be enough.
Institutionalizing Agile – The devil lies in the details
According to the respondents, 34% of Agile projects fail due to ‘lack of planning’in the
form of a rolling lookahead roadmap. Is sprint-based short-sightedness killing vision?Is the lack
Failing to get seriously involved in the details of delivery during an Agile adoption,
will risk your teams’ success.
Agile has overtaken Waterfall as the de-facto standard for software project delivery.
This large-scale adoption surfaces complexities leading in many cases to disillusionment
about Agile’s success potential.This forces both organizations and Agile practitioners,
to return to realism. The ‘hype’ period is over. The big battle has been won.
We now need to focus on all the little things ensuring successful delivery.
Winning the little battles will win us the war.
This article first appeared in AgileForValue.com’s blog