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7 Barriers to Agile Implementation

  • Date: April 10, 2017
  • By: Paul Rasmussen

7 Barriers to Agile Implementation What could happen?

Ever ask that?

People do.

About many things.

Like what could happen to your body in space without a space suit. Or if you didn't do your taxes. Or if you got hit by a penny falling from a skyscraper. Or never left your bed.

What could happen if you tried to implement Agile in your company?

Probably something less headline-worthy, but there is still potential for drama.

Let's look at seven possible barriers to a successful Agile implementation.

1. Resistance to Organizational Change

Agile requires a fundamental shift in how companies are organized. Traditional companies have teams of like-skilled employees - programmers, testers, analysts, etc all under a manager. With Agile the organization is mapped more strongly to the product than the manager.

People often fear change. They especially fear organizational change. If your company has recently downsized through a reorganization or restructuring be sensitive to the fact that to an employee, an Agile implementation may look like another way to lose a job.

2. Resistance to Role Change

Agile causes jobs to change. There's no getting around it. A project manager isn't the same as a product owner. A project manager isn't the same as a Scrum Manager.

Some people will be excited about learning new skills, and others will feel threatened when moved out of their comfort zone.

Part of a successful Agile implementation is to provide retraining and ongoing evaluation to help employees know what to do and when they are being successful.

3. Resistance to Culture Change

Agile teams are empowered to do what's right for the product. Their allegiance is more to the team than it is a manager.

This notion is a shift from the traditional top-down command and control type management your company may be used to.

This culture shift needs to be communicated and planned for.

4. Human Resources Can't Keep Up

You can't implement Agile and not let HR in on the game. Many corporate HR departments are bound by forms, rules, and permissions all put in place to support traditional management structures. Their structure reinforces the very culture you are trying to replace with Agile.

Plan to include HR early in the Agile adoption, and look for specific training on how they can also function in an Agile manner. Be generous in your offers to work with them. Offer to take on portions of the recruiting and hiring process to ensure new hires align with the Agile direction.

5. No Dedicated Team Space

Geographically centralized teams need a dedicated physical space. Remote or dispersed teams need a dedicated digital space.

Either way, teams need as few barriers to collaboration as possible. Team members need to develop trust and mutual agreement on goals and processes in order to be successful at working in an Agile fashion.

6. A Key Sponsor Goes AWOL

Executives move on. Health problems happen.

No matter the reason, there is always a risk that the main internal Agile sponsor suddenly won't be there. Invariably the next person in that role will want to make their mark on the job. They will want to prove they can do what they promised in their job interview.

Young Agile efforts may be seen as fat that they can trim. Do what you can to document Agile successes and communicate those to senior management.

7. Loss of Budget

Just like people can change, markets can change. Corporate takeovers happen.

Budgets get cut for a variety of reasons. Agile projects can be expensive and require up-front expenses that need time to pay off. If the implementation is still young, it can be a prime candidate for budget cuts.

Keep an eye on the business side of things for potential change. And be thinking about how you could keep your Agile project going with a smaller budget.

Need a Second Pair of Eyes?

If you need a second (or third) pair of eyes to find potential roadblocks for your Agile implementation path feel free to contact us. We'll bring the binoculars to find them and our shovels to help clear them out of your way.

Categories: Agile

about author

Paul Rasmussen

Paul wants to live in a world where he can golf every day of the year, he has an unlimited number of “Do Overs," and he hits every goal he sets for himself. As a project manager, one of Paul’s strengths lies in managing multi-faceted Agile projects. After tackling some tough ones, he’s learned a lot about which management styles do and don’t work in a given situation, when and how to ask the hard questions, and how to identify who can be counted on at critical junctures. Throughout the project cycle, he strives to give team members and clients more than what they expect. “When I can do that, it’s amazing to see the lasting business and personal relationships that are made.” Outside of work, you are likely to find Paul at the golf course, brewing up his own specialty beer, or whipping up something new and crazy for Saturday breakfast. The past few years he has spent an inordinate amount of time assembling toys for his kids. Paul grew up in Sparta, near LaCrosse WI. He graduated with a degree in Management Information Services from UW - Oshkosh. He and his wife Jody have two daughters (Maddison & Skylar) and a son (Dyllan).

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