The Biggest Mistake with Agile
At least 75% of the dev shops that we see are using some form of Agile. Very few are following a pure form of any specific flavor i.e. Scrum, Extreme Programming, etc. but rather most are using some hybrid method. Some teams measure velocity while other don’t. Some teams have dedicated ScrumMasters while others have the engineering managers perform this role. While most team’s processes could be tweaked, none of these are the real problem.
The biggest mistake companies make implementing Agile and thus the cause of most of their problems is they don’t understand that Agile is a business process, not a software development methodology. Thus, the business owners or their delegates, product managers, must be involved at every step.
We’ve argued before that Agile teams must sit together because communication degrades at a rate of square the distance. Not having product managers with the Agile team involved in the entire process and (if you’ve moved from a Waterfall methodology) not having detailed specifications, is the worst possible scenario. Developers either need someone siting beside them to help with product decisions (Agile) or a detailed spec to work from (Waterfall).
Agile is a business process which requires the business to be involved in the product development process. It does not mean you get to stop writing specs and not be involved.