These four common agile myths most likely come straight from a misunderstanding of the Manifesto’s value propositions. In order to fully understand the value propositions, you have to take all three parts into account, not just the middle section.
“That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.” Nowhere does the Manifesto say “Stop writing documentation” or “Ban all contracts”. There is indeed value in following a process, writing documentation, and having a plan. And contracts are absolutely necessary when dealing with external parties. However, they should not become the focus of the software project, nor should they prevent the users, customers, and development team from collaborating.
When projects are scope-boxed (as they are in traditional development methodologies like waterfall), given a list of requirements, and estimates for those requirements, the budget and schedule are derived completely from the estimates. Estimation is very difficult, and more often than not, they are wrong (either too high or too low).
Agile processes like Scrum and Extreme Programming use the concept of time-boxing. This embraces the fact that estimates aren’t reliable, and instead they have teams work for a
predefined fixed period of time (somewhere between one and four weeks), getting as much
done in that period of time as they can. The goal of each sprint, as the time boxed iterations
are called in Scrum, is potentially releasable software. This keeps the team focused on delivering completed features each sprint.
Time-boxing allows us to know exactly how much each iteration/sprint costs as agile projects discourage overtime and other variable swings in costs (largely to prevent “Death Marches”). Estimates can be used to rough out how many sprints will be needed to develop all of the requirements, but each sprint is truly a fixed cost. This makes budgeting much cleaner.
Agile teams fix the cost, fix the date, but are honest and understand that the scope can and will change.
In the 11 years since the Agile Manifesto was created, the adoption of agile concepts has continued to grow. This growth has been so significant that Gartner has declared that “agile is now mainstream”.
Along with this growth in adoption and exploration of agile, the number of agile myths has grown as well.
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