Author: Can Izgi, PMP, PMI-ACP, PSM I
I deliver a lot of Agile courses. There are some questions that come up in my lectures, which are the result of myths people believe about Agile. Some of these myths are related to the misinterpretation of the Agile Manifesto. Below we see the four values of the manifesto:
Manifesto for Agile Software Development
We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
© 2001, the Agile Manifesto authors
In this article, I will give explanations related to the following keywords seen in the manifesto: processes, tools, documentation, contract, and plan. Experienced Agilists are aware of these myths.
MYTH: It is very unlikely that an Agile team is going to follow a process or use a tool during a project.
FACT: Agile teams follow processes and use tools regularly.
For example, Scrum has the following workflow:
… → Sprint Planning → Sprint Execution → Sprint Review → Sprint Retrospective → Sprint Planning → …
On the other hand, one of the core properties of Kanban is “Make process policies explicit.” Core Kanban properties are:
- Visualize the workflow.
- Limit WIP (work in progress).
- Manage flow.
- Make process policies explicit.
- Utilize improvement opportunities.
Agile teams use tools like Jira, Agilean, Agilo, etc.
MYTH: Many Agile teams finish projects without preparing any documents.
FACT: It would be impossible for an Agile team to finish a project without preparing any documents.
Examples of documents include Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog (which includes a task list), Definition of Done, Improvement List (which is updated during the Sprint Retrospective), Test Documents, Process Policies (in Kanban), Project Charter, Product Roadmap, Release Plan, Stakeholder Register, Risk Register, etc.
The Agile approach to documentation consists of “just enough,” “just in time,” and “just because.”
MYTH: It is extremely difficult to come up with a contract model which would be suitable for Agile projects.
FACT: Many contract models are being used successfully in Agile projects.
Here are two examples:
Example 1 – Fixed-price with an early termination option clause (money for nothing): The customer can terminate the project early if they pay a predetermined portion of the remaining contract value.
Example 2 – Graduated fixed-price: Different daily rates are used based on early, on time, or late delivery.
MYTH: High performing Agile teams generally spend negligible time for planning activities.
FACT: High performing Agile teams always spend a lot of time for planning activities.
Many experts believe that, on average, an Agile team ends up doing more planning compared to a Waterfall team, but the planning activities are distributed differently over the project life cycle. Agile planning is less of an up-front effort. Although the teams prepare product roadmaps and release plans, most of the planning activities focus on smaller horizons. This approach is called rolling wave planning.
Agile teams uncover requirements continuously by trial and demonstration, which will require replanning, and midcourse adjustments are the norm.
In Scrum, the Sprint Planning meeting is timeboxed to a maximum of eight hours for a one-month Sprint. In Kanban, the teams conduct Kanban Replenishment meetings. Daily planning activities are present in both Scrum and Kanban, which are called Daily Scrum or Kanban Daily Standup.
There are many myths people believe about Agile. Some of these myths are related to the misinterpretation of the Agile Manifesto. In this article, I explained the myths related to the following keywords seen in the manifesto: processes, tools, documentation, contract, and plan.