Half of CIOs say Agile IT is a “fad”

UK businesses will waste £37 billion on failed Agile IT projects during the next 12 months.  Eric Wright explains why a perfectly good concept is being ruined by a familiar problem.

Research from 6point6 shows that many businesses are missing the point of Agile IT.  In fact, disenchantment with Agile is so great that 75% of the 300 CIOs questioned are no longer prepared to defend it.

Why is Agile IT failing to deliver benefits?

Why is Agile IT failing to deliver benefits?

This is a staggeringly fast fall from grace for an idea that seems fundamentally sound.  Agile is at heart a fairly simple concept with a logical and clearly defined real-world application.  The idea is that rather than rolling out IT in the sequential “waterfall” method as is traditional, Agile encourages incremental, iterative work which is measured by empirical feedback.

In other words, rather than just creating a product or IT service, introducing it to the business and hoping it works, Agile is about building and testing in stages to ensure that when the final ‘product’ is delivered, it delivers value.

On paper, this seems like a great idea.  Agile is not just a great approach to rolling out services, it is also a good mindset for managing all IT, by routinely checking feedback to ensure the intended benefit is never lost.

Agile’s failings
So, given that Agile IT seems an ideal fit, why are so many projects failing?

There will be myriad reasons for these projects stalling, but there is one unifying problem that I can be certain will be clouding all of these failed initiatives.  Why the confidence? Because it's the same problem that blights so many IT improvement projects.

The reason why Agile IT is struggling is that the expectations are too high and the resulting project gets blown out of proportion.  Just refer back to the figures mentioned by 6point6.  One in 8 projects will apparently fail with a value of £37 BILLION therefore going to waste.  My question is this, what exactly are businesses spending the money on to make such huge losses?

Agile isn’t a mass technology refresh programme.  It doesn’t require a massive influx of new staff or skills.  It is simply a suggested way of restructuring the way we manage IT projects.  If it is relatively simple to execute, where is the money going?

Sadly, businesses get sucked into the hype and begin throwing money at something without fully understanding it. We’ve seen it before with initiatives such as ITIL and in the case of Agile IT, it seems to be happening again.  What could be a relatively simple project suddenly requires expensive consultants and training and technology to track progress, representing an outlay that may never be recouped.

The message is the same as for any other IT improvement project.  Unless you understand it fully, and have a clear view of what the benefits will be and what this will mean in terms of costs, you shouldn’t begin.  Agile IT could deliver multiple benefits - and in some cases will - but don’t start signing cheques until you are confident of why you are doing so.