The 3 Biggest Mistakes That New Agile Teams Make

No one said it was going to be easy. Agile development demands a different way of thinking about software and a different way of working. Developers and managers are people too, and they can’t just toss aside years-old habits, no matter how unproductive they are. Creating a working environment conducive to an Agile state of mind takes practice and frequent readjustments.

Some issues tend to recur as companies adopt Agile development practices. Here are three of the most common mistakes made by development teams and the actions you can take to avoid them.

1. Leaders struggle transitioning to an Agile mindset

Teams can’t make the leap into Agile methodologies without the support and commitment of management. Changing the company mindset and educating stakeholders is the biggest challenge that we see development teams facing. And it is not just technical management who need to understand Agile, but also those in non-technical functions as well.

In Agile development, self-organizing teams no longer need managers to make every decision for them, but will still require support. This represents a major cultural shift. Managers are therefore often the people to struggle the most with the transition, as their role changes dramatically. It is challenging for managers who are used to making most decisions and being more “command-orientated” to know how to give Agile teams the space for empowerment and self-improvement. Those companies that have transitioned successfully made sure these individuals received Agile training, so they better understand how to support their teams.

2. Teams neglect Agile testing and automation

Even when development teams adopt Agile methodologies, too many companies revert back to traditional practices for testing. Or worse, those teams consider testing as an afterthought and don’t give it the attention it requires. To ensure an effective testing strategy, we recommend including quality assurance (QA) professionals right from the start (and that means during product ideation). Having a QA strategy in place means you’ll be better positioned to manage the increasing complexity of software development.

Meanwhile a lack of an automation strategy means testers can struggle to keep up with the pace of delivery in Agile. Or in other cases, automation is limited, for example just with component tests. Those organizations that have a successful testing strategy in place understand the importance of automation, and have made the necessary investments to implement automation (for example with tools such as Selenium).

3. Project deadlines get pushed due to time zone hand-off complications

Today it’s typical that we work with teams distributed all over the world. However, no advances in technology will change the simple geographic limitations of when people wake and sleep. Modern software practices require greater interaction between individuals and teams. Trying to implement Agile across multiple timezones can be done, but it is more complicated. This is one reason why “nearshore” teams (located in the same or close timezone) are so successful when implementing Agile. Simply put, to stay on track with intense sprints and daily stand-ups, it’s more practical to keep your development and testing team within the same time zone.

Making the mindshift happen

These three issues are interrelated — the Agile mindshift, the coordination of Agile testers with developers, and a practical way to keep distributed teams communicating in real-time with each other. Once you can overcome these challenges, you’ll be in a much stronger position to adopt Agile successfully.

Silvana Gaia: Silvana is a systems engineer with 15+ years of experience in the software industry. She has been involved with Belatrix since the very beginning of the company, working in different positions from Senior Developer to Production Director. She's been a promoter of Belatrix's Agile methodology expertise. Nowadays she is a Technical Solutions Consultant. Based on her technical background, her management and sales skills and her understanding of services, she advises and supports clients in order to meet their business needs. With an action-oriented approach she helps tailoring solutions for customers. Her innate ability to mediate enables her to play the role of effective broker between Sales and Production teams.