Here’s Why You Probably Don’t Need Agile

When it comes to buzzwords in the world of software development, none have become more ubiquitous than Agile workflow. In an effort to stay ahead of the curve many companies have adopted the high-pressure approach of code sprints and simultaneous development, testing, and implementation. This trend may have sparked rapid advancements in software, but there are several myths driving the so-called need for Agile workflow at every single company in the world. Before making the switch (or blaming yourself if you already changed and it’s the worst) consider these points.

Myth 1: Agile Guarantees Speed and Efficiency

Agile claims to be the fastest, the most effective, and best way to roll out software. But agile is a response to a demand that might not actually exist for your business. In fact, there are only a few industries where releases and updates truly demand a sprint to the finish line. The result is that some companies are getting sold a magic bullet that doesn’t do much more than complicate every part of what they do.

In the case of an entity like a government, the switch to Agile creates an artificial sense of urgency for some when the reality is happening on a much slower timeline. No matter how fast the developers made the software, it will still take the same amount of time for someone to wait in line and vote, or renew their vehicle registration, or carry out some other essential function. So why the need to speed up releases? And if the developers are rushed to the finish line, quality assurance is usually the process to fall first by the wayside. In other industries like finance or retail, the demand for new features and updates may be more reliably market-driven, but switching to Agile isn’t a cure-all for this need either. It’s no guarantee that what is built fast will be built to last.

Myth 2: Change is Required

Everyone keeps saying they have to switch to agile because everyone else is. Because it’s the only way to keep up security. Because without it their business will shrivel up and they will get edged out. But the product and the outcomes are what drives business success, not the process to get there. If your competitor gets there three months before you, but their product is not good, have they really won? Changing to Agile development to check off the box on your buzzword checklist might feel like a victory, but this isn’t a battle or a war, it’s business. Rather than following everyone else into the land of sprints and Scrum, even a little bit, stop and ask yourself what is driving the decision. What are the goals you want to achieve? Don’t just grow in any direction.

Who Actually Needs Agile?

To help you understand if you actually need Agile, consider that instead of building software, you are building a cup. Do you start by building individual molecules and layering them one on each other, working toward the idea of a cup as you go along, telling each other how to make better molecules that are something like glass, and can be in a shape kind of like round? Or do you first begin by discussing the idea and need for a cup, and what purpose it needs to fill, then build it all at once? Of course, this is an extremely oversimplified comparison between agile and a more traditional approach to development like waterfall.  But it also clearly represents the drastic shift in mindset that is called for in a truly Agile environment. This is why so many businesses adopt a hybrid approach, along with whatever unique problems emerge.

Companies that benefit most from Agile DevOps are those where it originated, software firms and industries like telecommunications. These companies have firmware, other software, and hardware. Each of these products may have different yet integrated operating systems, and they all require a cycle of weekly releases of products and services. This is where Agile is at its best. For other businesses, the risks of unneeded and unclearly directed disruption may outweigh the benefits gained.

Remember, those benefits rely largely on those people engaged in the change, so if you do make the leap to Agile, leave no stakeholder behind. iLAB can help. Contact us today to learn more.