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8 Reasons Why Agile Transformation Fails

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While Agile has been the ask of the hour across organizations, Agile at its core, is about getting things done. To get things done, you need to know how to do them right. And that’s not always easy! 

It’s not just about the methodologies or understanding business needs and priorities. It’s also about alignment between your team members’ skillsets, abilities, and goals. It’s about ensuring that everyone has access to real-time data, analytics, and a clear picture of how they’re doing. It’s about getting a good understanding, so you can see what your team is working on, who they’re communicating with, and why they’re missing deadlines. And it’s about not waiting until there’s a problem to start improving—you need to start small now so you can keep moving forward sustainably. 

Some companies have struggled with their Agile transformation due to poor training and a lack of understanding of what it means to be truly Agile. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what Agile is and how it should be done. 


There has been a significant increase in the adoption of Agile by software development teams, moving from 37% in 2020 to 86% in 2021, as per an Agile Report by 

Let’s look at the 8 reasons why organizations struggle to succeed with their Agile Transformation: 

1. Incorrect Agile Training  

Agile is not an easy 2-day workshop that will transform everything for your business. A trainer from within the organization will know your company better than anyone else, so they should be able to train people who are learning agile for the first time with confidence that they will get a solid foundation in this flexible, iterative methodology. 

Almost 35% of respondents in the above report also cited insufficient training as one of the top challenges in adopting Agile. 

Incorporating agile principles into your team’s daily work allows you to overcome the challenges of big projects by setting small goals that can be achieved in short periods of time. It also helps you build a culture of transparency and collaboration— which is essential for success in any project or organization. 


2. No Agile Maturity Assessment 

The Agile Maturity Assessment is a challenge for most organizations. It’s not just about whether your company should be adopting Agile—it’s also about how to do it and why you should. 


For example, if your company has multiple teams that need to work together and collaborate on a product, it may be difficult for them to adopt Agile because they don’t have the same level of commitment or experience with Agile. They may also have different goals for the project. In this case, there would need to be some cross-team training and education and a plan in place so everyone knows what they’re supposed to do. 


Another challenge with Agile Maturity Assessment is that it can be difficult for companies with no formal Agile practices in place who are trying to adapt their current processes into an agile model. This could mean that they don’t have any documentation or training material available on how their current processes work and how they can change them, so they’ll fit within an agile methodology. 

Agile Maturity

Themes to consider while assessing Agile maturity. Source: Deloitte


3. Expecting to transform in a ‘one-size fit all’ model 

While there is an Agile Manifesto in place that outlines the 4 main principles, namely: 

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools 
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation 
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation 
  4. Responding to change by following a plan 

These were crafted as a response to certain situations the authors faced during a particular period. So, this may not apply to your organization as is.

Keep in mind that each organization’s people, culture, and business goals vary, which is why an Agile model practiced by another company may not do justice to your organizational needs. 

4.Wrong Change Management  

There has been a lot of talk about how Change Management interacts with Agile introduction. Switching to an Agile culture requires buy-in from top management, product owners, software development team, and other cross-functional teams.  Likewise, Change Management will have to do its bit to become flexible and more responsive to gel with the dynamic nature of Agile. It all boils down to adapting to changing situations.  

Here’s an interesting read on how Change Management meets Agile. 


5. Lack of Access to Real-Time data and Analytics for Continuous Improvement 

As opposed to the traditional waterfall method, in Agile, there’s a possibility that business requirements change rapidly, and the team needs to be aligned with the same. The ask from clients here will be for action-oriented insights. This is where predictive analytics comes into play for enabling such decisions. Absence of real-time data and analytics will pose an obstacle to continuous improvement. Big Data and Advanced Analytics should be the core of Agile Delivery.  


6. Mistaking Agile for a Project Management Methodology 

Project Management is rooted in the traditional waterfall method and goes by the bible of project management framework. Whereas Agile is more liquid and flexible in nature even though it is backed by a manifesto. While many leaders have started to unify Agile and Project Management, calling it Agile Project Management, Project Management ideologies have not lived up to the evolving demand of businesses. Thinking of it as a complementary process to Agile can still prove risky. 


7. Misalignment with Organization’s Culture 

An organization must not adopt Agile if at any point they feel it is at odds with their organizational goals or culture. Change is good, but only when it’s wholly accepted and implemented by all the stakeholders. Any kind of gap or resistance here will only lead to the downfall of this process. Agile cannot be shoved because it involves overthrowing the style in which the company and its people have been working for years. Thus, adopt Agile only when the entire organization is in it to win it. 


8. Communication and Collaboration 

Agile Demands a certain level of collaboration between teams accompanied by constant communication. Working in silos is not an option when it comes to Agile. A developer has to ensure the tester finds enough time for their respective part of the work and vice versa. If at any point a single team member feels their skills or authority is being undermined and refuses to work as a team, Agile will fail. 

Agile is a shorter sprint and constant communication is of utmost importance, or else this method falls flat on its face.  

In summation: 

Agile has proven to enable companies to shift their work culture, be clear about deliverables, and constantly collaborate internally and externally with clients. And as such, it has laid the groundwork for better innovation, creativity, and out-of-the-box approaches. Companies definitely stand to benefit from this approach, given they are wary of the issues we just listed down. If you have more questions, you can just talk to our experts here.  

You might also be interested in: 


A Guide to Agile Testing 

Exploratory Testing – The Underrated Boon To Agile 

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