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Is agility always a good thing?


The field of software development has long been dominated by ‘Agile’ methods. ‘Agile’ is synonymous with modern practices, and without exception, software houses have ditched old waterfall-type methods in favour of ‘agile’ development processes. But has this always been the right solution? Does anyone dare to question the status quo?

To some extent, Agile can be compared to religious faith. That is how fanatically it is sometimes defended. But as in all faiths, some elements of Agile are questionable. Indeed, many companies have found themselves in a kind of endless continuum with development projects. Money comes in, continuous iteration and development occur, but nothing is ever ready. The tail has started to wag the dog, and development work, which was previously seen as a business support function, begins to steer the whole ship.

Indeed, the role of the customer’s product owner has become uncertain in Agile projects. The best way to prevent new ideas from emerging uncontrollably like an over-puffed soufflé is to stick to the product strategy and guide the development team gently but firmly towards its goal.

In some companies, the tendency of the strongest actors to snap up the best parts of projects has become a problem among self-directed teams. This can steer the whole Agile concept in the wrong direction and, if allowed to go too far, can pose a risk to the outcome. Sometimes, the customer has to be the ‘bad cop’ who has the last word. We have paid special attention to this and build our teams with changing configurations.

At Devolon, we have built operating models based on our experiences, in which we bring the right data to the customer’s product owner at the right time, and support the customer’s business goals by keeping development projects under control and in line with their goals. We also gather valuable information by measuring employee satisfaction within teams.

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