Agile Development

Agile: Separating Myth From Reality





Agile Development


Agile: Separating Myth From Reality

Published: 2024/02/29

6 min read

In the worlds of project management and software development, the term “Agile” has become a buzzword. According to the latest State of Agile report, 71% of respondents claim that they use Agile methods at work (28% use Waterfall). Moreover, Deloitte’s “Agile Maturity Survey” report, which evaluates the Polish market, reveals that organizations that use agile management methods currently constitute 80% of all entities. Read on to learn the truth about Agile and how it can be used to drive your software development in a way that’s efficient, evolutive and cost-effective.

Agile, with its philosophy of quickly responding to change and adapting, offers many benefits, especially in software and information technology development projects. However, in today’s business world, there is a tendency to treat Agile as a magic elixir that will solve all product delivery problems. The truth is, however, that Agile is much more than just a set of tools or processes – it is a fundamentally changing approach to creating and managing a project. In the context of IT projects, where the dynamics of change is the norm, the Agile approach seems to be a natural choice. Agile offers the flexibility necessary to effectively respond to constant changes in customer requirements, technological challenges and even unexpected problems. However, in practice, many companies limit themselves to introducing only basic elements, such as roles and events, without recognizing the deeper values ​​and challenges that a full understanding of these methods brings. Agile is not just a set of rules, but above all a work culture that promotes transparency, cooperation and continuous improvement.

What are the benefits of Agile?

Before debunking myths about Agile, it is worth quickly highlighting the benefits of this approach. Agile’s measurable value helps explain why research shows that 71% of US companies use Agile and that, on average, teams that use Agile are 25% more productive. The advantages of Agile include:

Faster time to market – by applying the 80/20 rule, features are implemented based on their ROI value to the end product.

Increased customer engagement – The important of collaboration extends beyond the development team to include customers, so their needs and goals are factored into the equation.

Targeted product developement – Reacting, in real-time, to customer and stakeholder feedback and adjusting plans accordingly means that time and processes are maximized t be effective.

Reduced risks – Breaking up work into short sprints enables teams to anticipate issues and identify problems before they become debilitating.

Higher quality – Since Agile practices help overcome challenges associated with time, management and costs, teams can focus on their craft and deliver first-class products.

Enhanced customer experience – Adding features and functionalities that address customer pain points ensures the ultimate product experience will be rewarding and in line with their expectations.

Coherent strategies – An Agile way of working strives to bring together cross-functional experts and encourages alignment between the technical and business sides of an organization.

The value Agile can bring to an organization is easy to understand. However, when implementing agile management methods, it is also important to understand what Agile is not.

Agile is not a method for delivering value faster

Agile is not a way to make people work faster. Many people think that agile methods are a way to accelerate the pace of delivering a product to market. However, Agile is not just about delivering quickly, but rather about delivering the right value. By focusing on a continuous loop of inspection and adaptation, Agile enables teams to catch problems faster, increases process predictability and eliminates waste. Faster delivery may be a side effect of properly implementing agile methods, rather than the primary goal.

Agile is not micromanagement

Within Agile, there is the role of the Scrum Master, which is often mistakenly perceived as the role of someone pushing the team to achieve goals. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Scrum Master supports the team in striving for self-development and eliminating obstacles to success. Agile emphasizes the value of team autonomy, trust in the skills of each member and open communication about problems that arise during work. It is through these principles that Scrum can boost team productvity.

Agile is not a fortune teller

Although working in iterations and dividing the task into smaller parts can help manage risk, it does not guarantee the complete elimination of unexpected events. Agile, instead, encourages flexibility, the ability to quickly respond to changes and adapt to new circumstances.

Agile is not a solution to all problems

Agile methods are not a universal cure for all design ailments. Their effectiveness depends on understanding and commitment at all levels of the organization. Implementing Scrum, Kanban or other Agile practices requires a well-thought-out strategy and an organizational culture that promotes independent team operation and decision-making. It is certainly not a magical solution that will automatically turn any project into a success. In fact, the benefits of agility may only become apparent in the long term, once the organization fully accepts and commits to the process. At Software Mind, we have been cultivating a culture that promotes agility and continuous improvement for years. The Procountor project is a great example of how Agile, when properly understood, can transform the way we create software. The teams working on this project not only implemented Agile practices at the operational level, but also understood the deeper aspects of this method. Thanks to this, a client that uses our teams can experience the benefits of a flexible approach to project management.

Agile is not a solution for all projects

In the case of projects where the scope, time and budget are predetermined, it is difficult to introduce full agility. In such models, a client and outsourcing partner often agree on the detailed scope of work and costs in advance, which limits flexibility in adapting to changes. In such situations, even if a team strives to be agile, it may encounter difficulties in adapting to unforeseen changes that may impact established scopes. Another example are projects in which a step back is simply impossible, projects in which individual steps and the order of operation are predetermined and there is no possibility of changes – after all, it will be difficult to move a built bridge pillar by half a meter. In short, Agile is not only a set of practices or processes, but above all a philosophy that promotes flexibility, cooperation and continuous improvement.  Understanding what Agile is not is crucial to successfully implementing and using agile methods in an organization.

It is worth remembering that Agile is a tool used to achieve business goals through better change management and adaptation to a dynamic business environment. Software Mind, which has taken up this challenge and understood the Agile philosophy, integrates it into our daily practices. In our company, teams are ready for continuous improvement and adaptation, which has become a natural element of their activities. Since they are fully committed and have an agile mindset, they can effectively support clients with their digital transformations and achieve better results.

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How can companies implement Agile methods?

The proven advantages of Agile are well-documented and easy to see. As reported in Forbes, companies that have implemented Agile methods have experienced accelerated software delivery, increased team productivity, enhanced predictability of delivery, improved software quality and streamlined processes.

Though there may be several ways to develop an Agile culture within your organization, one of the most practical and effective is by teaming up with an external, dedicated development team that already has tried and tested best practices. This background translates into knowledge sharing that can enrich an entire organization, not just the project the external team is supporting, and lead to a change in culture and boost in morale. Agile, as discussed earlier, is about empowering individuals to be creative and work towards a common goal, while establishing an atmosphere that’s supportive and rewarding. This is important – LinkedIn reports that replacing an employee can cost a company approximately 33% of their annual salary, so retaining skilled specialists should be a priority for all leaders.

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About the authorKatarzyna Składowska

Scrum Master

An enthusiast of agile management with over 14 years of industry experience, Katarzyna is a Scrum Master who aims to connect people and technology. A firm believer in the power of open communication as a key element of effective collaboration and goal achievement, she prioritizes honesty and transparency on projects. Approaching people and tasks holistically, she strives to integrate diverse perspectives and support team development at every level. Beyond her daily responsibilities, Katarzyna is also a Values Ambassador for Software Mind and represents the company’s acting with respect value.

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