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Top Agile Myths & Misconceptions

It sometimes amazes me that there are still people who haven’t heard of Agile or what it represents. Below are some myths and misconceptions that people have believed about Agile. Of course, if you’ve ever worked in an Agile environment, some of these items might come as a surprise. But these are things I hear again and again.

Agile Is a New Force in the Software Industry

No, Agile is not new. However, the Agile Manifesto was published in 2001. At first glance, this seems to be a relatively new concept, but it’s not. It can be traced back to the mid-60s; it is certainly not as new as people think. A close look at the report from the 1968/69 NATO Software Engineering conference reveals some great insights about the early origins of Agile (page 32, Perlis):

“Through successive repetitions of this process of interlaced testing and design, the model ultimately becomes the software system itself.”

Agile Is Better Than Traditional Methodologies

Although more and more companies are using Agile as the preferred way to develop their products, this assumption is wrong. The type of development methodology should be determined per project and based on environmental variables. For example, we can use the Waterfall methodology if we have clear and informative requirements from day one of the project. Also, the waterfall method can be used when we have a stable environment that increases the predictability of the project with respect to the work that needs to be completed.

There Is No Documentation in Agile

This myth may have started with the Agile manifesto itself by stating, “Working software over comprehensive documentation.” Even earlier Kent Beck, the founder of Extreme Programming, is reported to have said: “Documentation may only be necessary before I die, and can’t explain it personally.” This wrong interpretation led people to believe that being Agile means no documentation, which of course, is not the truth. In Agile, you can have as much documentation as you need because it can be part of the team deliverables. It provides value to the customer and the development team/organization.

Also check this tutorial on Agile testing, and deep dive into the history of Agile testing, its advantages, disadvantages, methods, quadrants, and best practices.

Deadlines do not limit agile projects

Agile is not a free ticket to abuse the project timelines like traditional methodologies. Remember that there is a customer who is paying for the software (and a company that needs to earn money). There is no chance that a customer will agree to work with a company if they are told there is no expected time for project completion. The main thing in Agile is that we can deliver incremental releases of the product to allow the customer to review the project’s progress and use a basic set of functionalities that increase as the development sprints progress.

Agile frequently uses a more explicit definition of done, such as the Definition of Done (DoD). To make sure that the customer’s needs are addressed, the team and customer have agreed on this. For a project, there may be several definitions of done, including:

  • DoD for a release

  • DoD for a feature

  • DoD for a User Story

  • DoD for a Sprint

Agile Revokes the Need for Planning

In Agile, planning is everything! There isn’t a project that does not involve significant planning. The main difference in Agile is that the planning is spread throughout the whole development process, rather than at the beginning, as in traditional development. In Agile, there is less up-front planning because planning is performed per sprint, continually until the completion of the project (there is no need for significant up-front planning that will become obsolete due to changing requirements). However, customers and critical stakeholders use sprint plans. Any deviation from a particular delivery date may be seen as a failure on the part of the team and not as a failure of the plan itself.

Agile Is the Cure for All Problems

Agile will not solve all problems related to the Software Development Lifecycle, but if used correctly, it will most likely help the organization increase the percentage of project success. It will also increase visibility, improve communication, and results in continuous improvement.

Agile Is Not Suitable for Large Projects

Managing large projects is very demanding, no matter what methodology is used. The main difference between Agile and traditional methodologies is that we take a large project and break it down into small manageable deliveries rather than delivering it all at once.

Agile Means No Design

Does this even sound logical? Of course not; being Agile does not mean a project does not require any “design” supporting it. The main difference between Agile and other models is that in Agile, the design is reviewed and updated continuously throughout the development process.

There Is No Need to Plan Your Testing Activities

Test planning in Agile is a part of the planning sessions and occurs at the beginning of each sprint, where the team will work together on stories to determine the test strategy for the upcoming sprint. Moreover, the testing effort must be based on quality standards. These must include up-front planning to support the coding activities involved in developing each user story.

In this Ad hoc testing tutorial, let’s deep dive into what Ad hoc testing is, its advantages, disadvantages, types, characteristics, and their best practices.

Who Needs Test Documentation?

In Agile testing, we have fewer documentation activities, such as creating long, comprehensive STP docs or STDs containing thousands of test cases. This does not mean the team is free from documenting their tests at some level. As part of the testing activities per sprint, the team must document their tests somehow. Irrespective of the testing methodology used (e.g., Exploratory testing, Risk-Based testing, automated testing, etc.), we need some documentation to gain the most from the test execution process.

Tools Will Remove the Need for Testers to Communicate with Other Team Members

The Agile manifesto gives importance to people over processes and tools. Tools are essential in any environment, especially in a fast-changing environment like Agile. Tools help reduce manual labor and costs and allow team members to focus on crucial quality artifacts. However, in Agile, we rely on people to collaborate, irrespective of the tools used in the development activities.
Testing practices based on a well-designed strategy are always more important than just using tools (essential as a supporting layer). Testers must be key players in the overall development sprints, including participation in daily sprint meetings, planning meetings, etc. This needs to be from the beginning of the project and they also need to be a part of the development of each user story to add their insights as early as possible.

Agile is only used in software development

In practice, Agile methods are a specific way of delivering results. Despite the fact that they were first used by the software developer community in the 1990s, Agile has nothing to do with SW development. There are numerous examples of Agile being used outside the software world and even outside of IT, ranging from marketing to finance to product development.

Agile and Scrum are synonymous terms

These two are not interchangeable. Agile is the application of the approach, while Scrum is a framework. Scrum is not a framework that is used by all Agile businesses. Which methodology will best support user needs will depend entirely on the situation.

In this Data driven testing tutorial, let us deep dive into what data driven testing is, its pros & cons, its types, data driven testing in an agile environment, benefits, and their best practices.

There is No Focus on Quality

The myth is that with Agile, you get what you get (implying that there is no emphasis on quality/customer satisfaction). This is not the case, as we are focused on providing value to the customer and meeting their highest priority requirements with Agile. Sprint retrospectives are also beneficial in terms of promoting quality and continuous improvement. These allow the team to ‘inspect and adapt’ the work they have done and how they have done it on a continuous basis. The retrospective focuses on process improvement. The objective is to identify only 1–2 strategic changes for the next iteration.

Conclusion

Getting the misconceptions out of the way early on is a good way to get started with Agile Methodology. The faster the team and stakeholders understand the gist of the myths and why they exist, the better for the organization’s journey to becoming Agile and effective.

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