What Makes Agile Projects Succeed (or fail)? – Code Camp

Approximately 30 people came together Sunday morning to examine the question: “What makes agile projects succeed (or fail)?” This was one of my sessions at Silicon Valley Code Camp 2007, an open space conference that had over 900 registrants.

We generated and clarified almost 50 success or failure factors. Next the whole group participated in ranking the factors into tiers, from most important to least important. Dot voting was used to allow each participant’s experience to count equally, resulting in a result that reflects the collective wisdom of the group present. We managed to do all of this in less than an hour and a half! To learn more about the process and how to use it, click here.

Here are the top success (or failure) factors, as determined by the group:

Tier One
Quick deployment
Automated tests

Tier Two
Close communication with end-user / End-user inclusiveness
Skilled developers

Tier Three
Small task size
Unclear requirements combined with lack of vision and leadership (failure)
Tool selection challenges (failure)

Tier Four
Avoiding context switches
Embracing flexibility
Agile / Multi-site (not co-located ) challenges (failure)
Developer resistance to refactoring (failure)
Hard to do budget upfront (failure)

Tier Five
Education and mentoring
Lack of documentation for new dev team members
Whole systems thinking
Lack of big picture view
Stakeholders more supportive, have better visibility
Bootstrapping the team
Poor communication with customers about budget and/or feature set (failure)

Tier Six
Gelled team
Frequent refactoring
Knowing the difference between research and development
Communication within the team
Story backlog unmanageable (failure)

Here are the results from a different goup that examined the same question at Agile Open CA.

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