Resistance to adopting Agile frameworks is often based on misconceptions that nourish a fear of change. Here are three of the biggest myths about Agile:

1. Agile goes away with planning

If you walk into an Agile team room, you may well see a board or wall covered with colourful post-it notes. This is the task board, full of detail on work completed, in progress and outstanding. It gets updated daily, as parcels of work are prioritised. It’s also Agile planning in action. In reality, Agile never stops planning. A backlog of features or tasks is assessed and ordered, and sprints or iterations are planned to complete them. A key difference with Agile is that as software is continuously delivered and tested, the plan is revised and refined, with unnecessary elements jettisoned. Agile creates a dynamic and responsive planning environment that is constantly working towards greater efficiency in the delivery of a project. 

2. Agile is unpredictable

It’s often suggested that budget and time uncertainty is the elephant in the Agile room. An elephant that is, moreover, liable to charge off over the horizon leaving incomplete projects and cost overruns in its wake. The truth is rather less dramatic. Whether in the time-boxed sprints of Scrum, or the business deadline and evolved limits on a Kanban board, Agile projects are meticulously time-managed and continuously adjusted, ensuring delivery and budget targets are met. In fact, by delivering and testing working software early and then iterating, Agile avoids the pitfalls of over-scoping that are common to projects planned out entirely upfront. Far from being unpredictable, the refinement of predictions is baked into the Agile process.

3. Agile doesn’t document

Okay, so there’s a grain of truth in this one. Prioritising working software over comprehensive documentation is after all one of the guiding principles of the Agile Manifesto. But that doesn’t mean no records. Agile documentation simply evolves with the project. And advances in monitoring technology mean that Agile teams can now have their cake and eat it, with both pudding-as-proof software, and working data turned into dynamic documentation of progress. CGI’s AgileUnity portal, for example, allows the team to focus on continuous software delivery while calibrating data that not only provides project status reports, but helps refine forecasting for sprint planning.

As you might expect from a flexible framework, Agile is an evolving discipline. But the original Agile manifesto, drawn up over 20 years ago, offers guiding principles that were prescient then, and still relevant now:

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

We follow these principles:

  • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
  • Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  • Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  • Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  • Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  • Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  • Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.
  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly. 

These values and principles are still as relevant today as they were in 2001. Yet, over the last 22 years common myths and misconceptions have often led to fear in adopting Agile ways of working. Our Agile Digital Services team are passionate about dispelling these misconceptions and have years of hands-on experience partnering with clients to unlock the early delivery of value through Agile transformations.