A couple of years back I was engaged on a project to help recover an agile project run amok. The project was one of the first in the organization to use an agile development methodology and consisted of eight four-week sprints with six capability development teams. The project manager was a very theoretical scrum master who was more concerned with having an agile "design win" than he was with ensuring the business sponsor was satisfied with the project result. After about the third sprint there were significant issues with capabilities not working together, interfaces with external systems breaking, and problems with meeting sprint dates for committed capabilities. To save the project, we had to take a number of steps that violated the purist agile model but were necessary if we were going to keep moving forward on the project. Our implementation looked like a mishmash of agile and waterfall. It wasn't pretty, but we eventually got the project done.
Depending on where an organization is at in its systems development methodology journey, it may not be able to jump to a purist agile model and be successful. I've learned that the following six principles are paramount in a successful agile project.
I've never seen a project manager get points because he or she followed the rules of agile on a failed project. The first and foremost goal is agreed-upon scope delivered on time and within budget. Keep the above principles in mind as you take on your next agile implementation to better ensure success and not get tied up in whether or not you're doing agile right.
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