Agile is the latest in a series of hot buzzwords that sweep through our management lives – but what does it mean? Is Agile a silver bullet that will fix all project problems? Is Agile a tool to replace traditional techniques such as PRINCE2® because the traditional techniques are somehow “broken”?
The answer of course is neither of the above. And since Agile methodologies have been around since the 1970s, why has there been such intense renewed interest in Agile in these last few years?
For many years now, organisations have realised the benefits of adopting some kind of formal framework for running projects, instead of the more natural method of just muddling through. Methodologies such as PRINCE2® and PMI have proved their worth over time and are now extremely commonplace. However, despite following tried and tested procedures, projects still have a tendency to run into trouble.
To give some examples:
- UK Government Emergency Fire Services project. £469m written off in a single year (2011)
- US Department of Defence cancelled an HR project after 12years - $1bn written off ($100 for every US taxpayer)
- In 2009, the US government had $27bn tied up in projects that were late or over budget
- DWP Universal Credit project writes off over £40m in 2013, with further £91m to come
- $80 -145 billion per year is spent on failed and cancelled projects (The Standish Group International)
- 25% - 40% of all spending on projects is wasted as a result of re-work (Carnegie Mellon)
- 50% are rolled back out of production (Gartner)
- 40% of problems are found by end users (Gartner)
- Poorly defined applications have led to a persistent miscommunication between business and IT. This contributes to a 66% project failure rate for these applications, costing U.S. businesses at least $30 billion every year (Forrester Research)
- 60% - 80% of project failures can be attributed directly to poor requirements gathering, analysis, and management (Meta Group)
- Nearly two thirds of all IT projects fail or run into trouble. (CHAOS Survey.)
If we’ve been using proven methodologies, and we’re still getting statistics like the above – perhaps we’re missing something.
And that’s where Agile comes in. It’s not a complete re-write of everything you’ve ever known, but it is a different way of chopping up old problems. Some projects lend themselves perfectly to a more traditional approach – but many do not. If you can identify the projects where PRINCE2® is not such a good fit, Agile has a whole bucket of tips, tricks and techniques to help you keep on time, under budget, and end up with delighted customers!