Some Reg readers think so. This is what a few of you tell us about agile development: "Often of a lower standard and the system will inevitably be less reliable". "If you don't have good people, you're screwed". "It leads to several wheels being reinvented in disparate ways". Ouch. Not everyone thinks it equals "deliver badly …
Agile is a great idea
but, a lot of organisations only pay it the barest of lip service in order to attract candidates as potential recruits.
I have worked in a number of places now who have attempted Agile in different ways. I think the best approach I encountered was where the organisation chose to adopt a best of breed method, taking the bits of Agile, Lean and XP that worked for them - and it did.
Recently, I have worked with an organisation where hiring managers were instructed by their peers to make a big play for Agile, but at the same time reinforced that software development would continue to be a bespoke waterfall methodology because "it works". We ended up with a lot of talented developers and analysts who had been working under Agile for a few years all of a sudden stuck in a prehistoric waterfall environment.
In my experience, when organisations want to use Agile purposefully, it works. When they just want to pretend they are doing it, then it doesnt. It amuses me that when organisations have their software being developed in a waterfall methodology complain that the brand new Agile tools they have just bought dont work the way they want them to.
I am a big fan of Agile and always try to introduce elements of it where ever possible.
As an aside, I used to consult for a startup whos director complained that unit testing was pointless. To quote him; "Why should I write a test, then write the code to fail the test before I start development?". Hmm, I wonder.
That company didnt progress from being a start up,
Agile horror story
Agile can also be badly misused if your company has broader structural problems (such as almost as many PMs as devs who are trying to justify their jobs with more and more unnecessary process). Some examples include management moving to two week iterations to speed things up and then getting in a mindset of everything should take no longer than two weeks. Turning a daily stand up into a political daily status meeting. Or calling it Agile while still dealing with requirements in a waterfall type approach (is it done yet? oh good check the box). AC for obvious reasons.
Sure, some people can do something sensible with Agile - after all it's only the bringing together of much that was best practise long before the term "Agile" was coined. On the other had, many companies use something that they call "Agile" but is actually a distillation of the worst cowboy development practises imaginable. The majority of people using "Agile" fall into the latter group, not the former. So any survery of what Agile does in the software development inductry will inevitably give it a resounding panning, because what most companies using something they call "Agile" are not using what the people at outfits like Pixar or Perforce call "Agile".
This of course is caused by having utterly incompetent management in charge of deciding how development will be done, and by the fact that when utterly incompetent managers see a shiny new buzzword like "Agile" they go and skim-read enough about it to extract some disconneted misinterpretations that support their lunatic pre-conceived ideas and then go an impose those on the development teams under the banner of the shiny new buzzword.
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