Agile project management has long stopped being a novelty, especially in the world of software development. And as it becomes more popular, it is being adopted more and more by companies who are not ready for it or whose way of working may not be suited to Agile.
As a result, we are also seeing more and more agile project management problems being reported and discussed, and not just within the project management community.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the five most common of those problems.
Slow adoption of the Agile framework
The Agile framework doesn’t work the same way in every single business organization. Something that worked fine for another business doesn’t have to fit into your work organization.
This is where problems might arise. For instance, if you hire skilled professionals who haven’t worked in such an environment, they might not embrace it as happily as you might expect.
Middle management may also be averse to agile as they might feel their work is being devalued and replaced by an unrealistic and idealistic concept of self-organized team.
Upper management may also be nervous about adopting Agile the way it should be adopted. They might feel apprehensive about their numbers which may get skewed as the company adopts another way of work and they may feel that they are losing control over their organization.
The choice of Agile methodology
Agile is an umbrella term that includes more than a few different approaches.
The most widespread one is definitely Scrum but there are others, such as Dynamic System Development Methodology, Kanban, and Lean. Also, there is a family of Agile methodology called Crystal, which includes Crystal Orange, Crystal Clear, etc.
If a software development company opts for the wrong flavor of Agile, their operability won’t improve.
Some companies will meet great success with Scrum while others may struggle and have more success with something like extreme programming or Kanban.
The choice of the right Agile approach will depend on a number of factors and there is a chance that you will have to compromise on more than a few of them.
To cut a long story short, there’s no magic wand that can select the right Agile methodology on your behalf. You need to get to know your employees, your projects, and your clients. That way, you’ll be able to draw conclusions from your own and other people’s experiences. All these elements will help you choose the right Agile approach.
The lack of experience
Agile project management isn’t rocket science because thousands of businesses around the world use its benefits daily.
However, it requires a certain level of commitment and dedication to learn how its practical aspects work. For instance, if you want to teach your employees how to use Kanban boards and you haven’t used it yourself, you might not be the best mentor for that lesson.
What you need are people who have experience or at least are more familiar with Agile methodologies.
The good news is that many companies already have people who will have at least some experience with Scrum and other approaches.
Of course, there is always an option of hiring an Agile coach who will do their best to point your organization in the right direction. At the least, they can show the ropes to a few people in your company who will then disseminate this knowledge.
As more and more people master Agile, you can create cross-functional teams, where new employees will be able to learn from those more experienced ones.
Distributed teams are an important organizational aspect of the modern software development industry.
Companies hire people from different parts of the world because they can work with talented people from various regions. What’s more, distributed workforce allows them to successfully cover the requests of their clients on a global scale.
Unfortunately, Agile is not best suited for remote teams.
For one, most Agile approaches emphasize the need for the team to be in constant communication with one another, preferably in a single physical location where collaboration happens organically. Working across different time zones makes it even more difficult to enjoy all the benefits of Agile.
There are agile tools which can help remote teams with their Agile efforts, but it can be a challenge.
Dealing with large projects
The next on our list of Agile project management projects is handling large and long-lasting projects, which can prove to be a serious challenge even for experienced Agile project managers.
Namely, for the most part, the various agile approaches focus on teams and try to discover ways to make individual teams better. In large projects, there are more than just one team working on a product and even when they are all perfectly agile, coordinating them can be a challenge.
Another reason is that such large projects also usually involve a whole cadre of stakeholders from within the company, as well as from outside, making the team-stakeholder communication a much more difficult proposition.
There are different ways in which organizations are trying to solve this and there are even a few formalized Agile scaling approaches, such as LeSS or SAFe, to name a couple. Some organizations have also had plenty of success managing enormous agile projects, but it is also important to acknowledge that this can be extremely difficult.
There are other problems that you can encounter. For example, your company may want you to use a popular tool used in agile software development just because it's popular and not particularly good. Or, you might work with people who got burnt on Agile before and they have an intense dislike for the concept.
Still, these problems have been successfully overcome by a number of organizations who now enjoy all the benefits of the agile way of work.
The important thing is to expect some hiccups along the way and be prepared to honestly evaluate them and find a way to overcome them.