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Top Agile Myths and Misconceptions

Top Agile Myths and Misconceptions

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In today's fast-changing world, the need for businesses to be flexible is more than ever. Agile enables businesses to respond to the new opportunities and challenges they face in increasingly dynamic market conditions in today's business scenario. So, it is essential to understand what agile is. But surprisingly, while many people do understand agile many others do not understand it or haven't even heard about agile methodology and practices or have a general idea about them. However, there are many myths about agile that exist in the minds of people who do not clearly understand the agile methodology. These stem from ignorance about agile or unwillingness to dig deeper into agile to know more about it. We are going to bust some of the major myths and misconceptions about agile in this article.

It is essential to clear the myths and misconceptions associated with the agile methodology otherwise they may gain credibility and become common. So, we will try to identify the agile myths in this article. Let's have a look at these myths.

Agile Myths

1. Agile is a new concept

This is the most common myth associated with agile. The fact is that agile is by no means new. It has been in practice for a long time. It has been around for over two decades now. The agile manifesto was introduced in 2001 and the frameworks that now jointly constitute agile methodology evolved as early as the 1980s and 1990s, showing that agile is a matured methodology. It may be new as compared to traditional methodologies like Waterfall but it has undoubtedly been used for many years now. To summarize, agile enables inspection and adaptation in dynamic environments where variations occur. So, we can see that agile has been in practice for a number of years and is by no means a new concept.

2. Agile is more impactful than traditional methodologies

We can't blankly say that a traditional methodology like the waterfall is less effective than agile. No doubt, more and more organizations are adopting agile as their preferred methodology, assuming that agile is more impactful would be incorrect. The selection of the development methodology is determined by the type of project and the environmental variables. So, the choice of development methodology is specific to the project. The approach is adopted according to the situation. For example, the waterfall method would suit a situation where the environment is stable and can be predicted easily because in this case, the requirements of the project are clear and steady from the very start and there is not much need to have feedback and adjustment during the course of the project. So, the crux of the matter is that no method is better than the other and each situation needs its own method.

3. There is no requirement for documentation in Agile

Many people believe that there is no need for any documentation in agile. But this is not true. This myth may have started with the misinterpretation of one of the four principles in the agile manifesto that says, "working software must be given more value than comprehensive documentation". This is where the misconception happens. But this does not mean that agile does not need any kind of documentation. What this principle means is that the teams should focus more on delivering working software than spending too much time on documentation. It should be interpreted as doing away with unnecessary documentation but keeping the necessary documentation. Documentation is essential for every project to keep an adequate record of the information regarding the project that can be presented to the stakeholders, to record the decisions taken, lessons learned, and progress metrics. In fact, all agile projects must allow for value-based, product-focused documentation which would be beneficial for the business.

4. Not much planning is required in agile

This is far from what actually happens on the ground. On the contrary, planning is very critical in all agile projects. No project can do without proper planning. Every project in agile requires significant planning. The difference is that in traditional methods, planning is done beforehand whereas in agile, there is not much upfront planning involved so it is easier. What is important here is that every iteration in agile has to pass a planning process. So, the planning in agile is spread throughout the development process rather than at the beginning of the process. And the planning at the end of every sprint involves all team members instead of a couple of individuals specifically entrusted with the planning work as may be the case in the traditional methods. So, you can see that there may not be much planning required at the beginning of an agile project, but it involves planning and replanning which means agile needs more planning than other conventional methods.

5. Agile projects do not work with deadlines

Another misconception about the agile methodology is that it does not work for fixed-deadline projects. The fact is that agile works best in projects that have fixed deadlines. The origin of this myth might be in the fact that in agile projects, increments are released at different intervals. But agile does not give a free hand for non-adherence to project timelines. After all, your organization has a customer who would be paying for the product, and obviously, no customer would like to work with a company that does not respect the project deadlines. What agile does is it allows the customer to review the product and provide feedback after using the basic functionalities of the product through incremental releases. These functionalities keep increasing as the project progresses. So, all this implies that the project can not go on for an unlimited time and timelines have to be clearly defined in agile also not only for the satisfaction of the customer but also for the benefit of the organization.

6. Agile practices solve all problems related to IT

Although it has many advantages it is wrong to assume that agile is a cure-all for all the issues related to IT. The use of agile methodology mitigates risk and improves collaboration in the team which helps in enhancing their efforts. With agile practices, communication among the team members becomes more efficient, and tracking the progress of the project becomes better. The fact is that all IT issues do not have a single solution. Instead, it involves the integration of different frameworks and each of these frameworks provides a part of the solution. Management and delivery frameworks like agile must be implemented in a reasonable manner. The real-world environment in which a system is supposed to be implemented and worked plays an important part in this and must be given due consideration so that the best integration of agile and non-agile frameworks can be achieved that would work successfully in the real-world environment. So, in short, agile is not a single answer to all IT problems but plays an important part in providing solutions.

7. Agile methods do not need design

This is one more myth about agile that needs to be busted. It is not just about hacking, as it is called in agile. Hacking here means putting together an IT system without any design or architectural thinking. This is not true. Practicing agile does not mean that a project doesn't need a design at all to support it. The difference with regards to design between agile and other methodologies is that in agile design is continuously reviewed and updated throughout the process. So, probably agile needs more design than other frameworks. Design is intrinsic to the entire development process and every planning meeting. The thing is that you don't need a big design upfront in agile. According to the agile manifesto, "paying constant attention to technical excellence and good design improves agility". There are tools and techniques provided in many agile frameworks that help the team in producing high-quality code. Unlike other frameworks, Design is present throughout the process in agile and is not just confined to the start of the project.

8. Agile is only for software development

This is not correct. Yes, in the agile manifesto, agile is described agile as related to the software industry. The complete process, practice, and policy described in the agile manifesto are in the context of the software industry. No doubt, initially the agile methodology was first used by the software development industry and even today it is mostly used by them. But that doesn't mean that agile can not be used in any other type of project from a different industry. It can be easily and successfully implemented in business environments that are not just software related. Agile methods deliver results in a particular way. But that doesn't imply that only the software industry can use agile practices. There are multiple examples of industries other than the IT industry using agile to great benefit. These include industries like marketing, finance, product management, and many others. In short, agile can be used in any business environment that is dynamic and has variability.

9. Agile has only one right size for user stories

This is again not true. Each team is different from the others and so is the size of each user story. Generally, in agile, the size of the user stories is small, and each story has a business idea that this propelled by some value. And the size of the user story is determined on the basis of these two factors. Another factor that plays an important part in determining the size of the story is the time it will take to be delivered. Can it be delivered anytime soon or it will take months to deliver? The team composition also has a role to play in deciding the size of the user story. If the team consists of people with less or no experience in agile, they would need more information. On the other hand, if the team has members who are experienced in using agile methods, then they will need fewer details. So, the size of the user story is different for each team depending on its composition. 

So, we have put the agile myths and facts before you. You can always find reasons for not adopting the agile methodology but clearing these myths and misconceptions about agile at the outset will remove many things that might be blocking you from adopting agile. It will benefit the organization, the stakeholders, and the team if they can understand these myths. So, the quicker they grasp these myths the better it will be for them and they can move faster toward becoming agile and more effective. These myths can stop you from implementing agile in your organization. But if you always keep the facts provided above in your mind, you will significantly improve your chances of getting the best results from implementing the agile framework in your organization.


Simpliaxis is one of the leading professional certification training providers in the world offering multiple courses related to Agile methodologies. We offer numerous Agile related courses such as Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)® Certification Training, Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO)® Certification Training, Certified Scrum Developer (CSD) Certification Training, Agile and Scrum Training, PMI-ACP® Certification Training, Professional Scrum with Kanban™ (PSK) Training, Certified Scrum Professional® - Product Owner (CSP®-PO) Certification Training, Agile Sales Management Training, Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) Training and much more. Simpliaxis delivers training to both individuals and corporate groups through instructor-led classroom and online virtual sessions.

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