Most companies – from startups to blue-chip corporations – have at some point attempted to adopt agile practices in order to transform at the organizational level. But, despite the Agile Manifesto’s enduring popularity, there are still many misconceptions that surround agile practices themselves.
Here are the five biggest myths about agile product testing that you should be aware of.
MYTH: Agile = Scrum
One of the most common misconceptions about adopting the Agile approach is that being Agile is the same as adopting the scrum methodology. There is a distinct difference between the two - while Scrum refers to a specific framework of iterative and adaptive development, being Agile involves a more general approach based on a set of principles.
While Scrum is definitely one of the most popular development frameworks that use Agile principles, organizations can adopt other Agile methodologies – such as Kanban and Crystal – and still be considered Agile adopters.
MYTH: Adopting Agile means not having to plan
Another major misconception about being Agile is that there is no longer a need to plan comprehensively, due to the iterative nature of Agile projects. This is untrue - just like any other form of project management, being Agile requires thorough and extensive planning for projects in order to be implemented successfully.
The confusion in reference to planning lies more significantly in the occurrence of planning within each type of agile product testing. While planning for projects using traditional methodologies such as the Waterfall approach tends to all occur upfront in the initial stages of the project, planning within Agile projects tends to be spread out across the project lifecycle.
For example, when adopting the Scrum methodology, project teams develop product features in two-week sprints, and conduct a round of planning prior to each sprint to revisit what features to focus on based on the latest set of customer input. This allows for project teams to be more nimble in their approach, and pivot their approaches accordingly based on customer insight and product vision.
Of course, agile teams must also plan for the long-term. By implementing concepts like continuous long-term product road mapping, teams can leverage agile practices within long-term strategic planning at the organization level.
MYTH: Agile only works for small teams
Due to the intensive and fast-paced nature of Agile projects, the Agile approach is often misunderstood to only be effective for small teams. As a matter of fact, project teams and organizations of all shapes and sizes are able to adopt Agile methodologies, as long as they choose the frameworks and tools that are most appropriate to their needs.
While small teams may function best using frameworks such as Scrum and Kanban, larger organizations are better off utilizing scaled Agile frameworks such as Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS), which are specially designed to help large organizations coordinate large projects, while still preserving the agility found in small-scale Scrum teams.
MYTH: Agile means trading quality for speed
Another major concern that tends to arise regarding Agile methodologies is that project teams have to compromise on quality in order to keep up with the fast-paced nature of Agile projects. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.
Agile frameworks often have incorporated safeguards that seek to preserve quality. For example, as part of the Kanban methodology, teams are limited to the number of features they can work on at any one time, and can only take on additional tasks after those initial tasks are completed. This allows the entire team to be more focused on a smaller set of challenges, and preserves the quality of their work.
These frameworks also institute an iterative process across sprints as teams gather more product feedback. This allows teams to start with something simple, move with it, and then develop complexities over time that are better aligned with stakeholder needs
MYTH: Implementing Agile is easy
Finally, when it’s all said and done, perhaps the most dangerous misconception people tend to have is that becoming an Agile team or organization is easy. Adopting and maintaining Agile practices requires a significant amount of energy and discipline, especially among teams that may be new to the concept. This can be particularly difficult for established organizations with more deeply entrenched organizational habits and behaviors.
Conducting a successful agile transformation requires not only stakeholders to understand these Agile practices, but also a change in the internal culture to embrace more risk-taking and bold experimentation.
More on Agile
There is plenty of misinformation on agile practices, so we encourage you to pursue even more information on the subject. In the meantime, check out our other resources on agile, from implementing organizational transformation to rethinking the original Agile Principles.
Ready to launch your product testing into a bigger, better phase? Check out our checklist for agile product development!