Agile Implementation Problems?12 Jul 2016

So, your Agile coach told you, that once you implement Agile, the team productivity will go through the roof, but you're struggling to see the result?
Maybe it's taking a little longer than expected to get there, or maybe the environment you've created does not fit the new requirements.. what should you do? Run to the Agile coach and demand your money back?
Perhaps, but why not take a closer look at what factors have the most impact, where an Agile team efficiency is concerned.

Agile Implementation Problems

Bad user stories

Meaning stories that are either badly written in their core (they make no sense) or they're badly worded (development team don't know what to do) or they might be just too large for one feature / fix.
Easy solution: get the team, that is most likely to be working on an item to help out when writing the user story.

Wrong understanding of time-boxing

The idea isn't to put a time-frame on something, but to make the work of a size that will suit the normal, accepted and currently used time-box. The general rule is, tasks will always take at least as long as the estimate / time-box, so it's advised to make them possibly quite short.
Easy solution: agree on a few workable time-boxes, one of which always needs to be used when estimating delivery of an item.

No priorities

It sounds easy enough to prioritize, but a surprising amount of teams do not manage their own priorities well at all. That's the kind of thing that can make or break your deal with a stakeholder.
Easy solution: give the team enough power to be able to pick the highly prioritized items for themselves and pause work on less crucial things in the meantime - rather than leave all of the decision making to a manager. Team know best when and how to pause / start work much more effectively than the manager.

Unclear definition of done

Unless all members of the team have the same understanding of when a task is done, there will always be a reverse flow present on your task management board. So delays, frustration and missed deadlines will follow.
Easy solution: define done and make this information known to all on the team - meaning - keep a written note on this in a visually reachable place - i.e. a task board or that spot right above the coffee machine you're all staring at while waiting for coffee.

Testing too late

It seems to be a hallmark of teams fairly new to Agile, who tend to bring their previous methods on board. Efficient testing and quick bug turnaround are crucial to making Agile work in at least a basic fashion.
Easy solution: automate testing and execute a strict testing policy.

Poor team communication

This often gets attributed to distributed teams only, but communication can suffer in all circumstances, all it takes is having bad examples set and no training (or common sense) in how much impact this creates to all productivity. Whether your team is spread across various time zones or sitting in the same room, not being able to share data, requirements and changes is a common issue.
Easy solution: make a protocol - state clearly what action requires which communicative reaction. It will hurt at first, but people get used to this after a while and information starts to flow beautifully through the company.

Bad start in Agile

It does happen, that teams, that were introduced to Agile from a wrong perspective or with unreal expectations just can't make it work. If the expectation is to increase productivity in a month or that by attending a 2 day course the team will change instantly - it simply will not happen.
Easy solution: manage your expectations and give the team time to learn the new ways and to adapt. Also, if it seems as though your Agile coach is making little sense - consider getting a "second opinion".

All these factors matter if you're seriously determined to see the results of your team being Agile. So, if things are not going as well as they should or could - find out the cause and fix it, it's perfectly doable.

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