Numbered List of Agile Challenges

In my previous post(Corporate Agile Challenges Demystified), I expressed challenges that large organizations face trying to get Agile Projects off the ground. I eluded to several scenarios based on repetitive patterns I have seen whilst consulting, collaborating and observing.  Below, I unpack the reason South African(not limited to) organizations struggle with Agile Projects in, no order of importance.

PS: Don’t even start a project if you have not even seen The Agile Maifesto( You may not be able to tick all the boxes at inception but at least understand all of them, adopt most of them and have a plan to address all of them in the future.

1. Underestimation of Collaboration

Most companies do not adapt their People, Technology and Process paradigms when attempting agile projects. What is sold to organisations is that predictable, working software is will occur quicker using agile. No business stake holder or IT Exec is going to say no that. So the same people, a totally new methodology with  slightly modified processes means quicker time to market? A brutal awakening once the deadlines are still missed.

2. Utopia Mandate

The number of SLDC gates a project has to traverse through in a large organisation often hits double digits. Whilst governance, quality and accountability is necessary, corporate-empires, non-lean departments, overlapping mandates become a great ping-pong tournament for agile projects. Project members soon realise their projects are more about effecting organisational change bottom-up than getting their working software to the users. If the most prevalent project stake holder cannot influence every gate, don’t attempt an agile project until this is rectified.

3. Going into a Sprint figuring out the Real Requirement

Why would having less requirements create better software? This is often the misnomer for various roles especially roles that are traditionally critical in eliciting business requirements. User Stories does not negate the need for requirements but creates an emphasis on who we building the software for very early on.

4. The Production Exec that will block your deployment

With 6-12 month project cycles and Banks and Telco’s, no production team is going to let you deploy every week. There are several logical reasons for this. Negotiate your deployment SLA’s early on. Ensure you have a good CI strategy.

5. No Test Driven Approaches

Building Software in sprints require an effective, robust approach that is simple. Incorporate the core TDD principles as refactoring code will become a constant. No sprint code will be isolated!

6. No Sense of Urgency

Time to Market is a key driver for investors expecting a return on Agile Projects. The teams need to be Self Organising, Adaptive and Self-Inspecting!

7.  Lack of Cultural Climate Alignment

South African organisations are very different from our global counterparts. We do more across the tech stack and SDLC value chain i.e. we offer multiple competencies to a project. Smaller, Leaner organisations adopt agile projects much easier. A lack of Change Management, as lame as it sounds, affect traditional employees. This is why respected global consulting companies don’t have the best references for Lean and Agile implementations locally.

This is, by no means, the full list on my radar. However, I have highlighted above, aspects that need attention. As an Agile Advocate, it’s positive to see more organisations willing to embrace the paradigm. However, the success rate is low due to corporate lag on many of the above items. We continue to collaborate with projects to steer projects in the right direction.