Reasons why the agile process in web development can fail – but shouldn’t

I have been building websites for over 20 years. Over this time, type and scope of web projects have changed considerably, and also the way they are approached. With the use of content management systems, the agile development process has become increasingly important. Content structure, design and technology are developed jointly by all project participants on the living object

This procedure has many advantages and - if everything goes well - is a lot of fun. All participants are at the same level at all times - non-experts can follow the development steps in practice and view the results of their decisions promptly.

The developed user guidance can be actively followed and experienced. Especially when it comes to design issues, the “wow effect” is usually immense. The development time is often shortened dramatically. In many of my projects, this approach works wonderfully.

But there are also project-related framework conditions that can cause the agile approach to fail.

The agile manifesto describes the basic rules of agile collaboration. I have picked out and independently interpreted those points which, in my experience, are particularly responsible for the failure of agile work.

  1. motivated (or unmotivated) tean members
  2. sustainable work at a constant pace
  3. technical excellence
  4. communication with each other

Motivated team members

Motivation is the driving factor behind every human action. Motivated people find their work easy, they enjoy it and are therefore inevitably more effective and creative. The more motivated a team is, the more effective is the cooperation, and in consequence, the better is the result. In teams, there are always people involved whose motivation differs significantly from that of other team members. Their motivation is lower and their work performance less effective. (Why this is so would go beyond the scope of this article.) The larger a team is, the better the lack of motivation of individuals can be compensated. In small teams, projects can fail due to the lack of motivation of individual team members.

Sustainable work at a constant pace

A constant pace requires that all key project participants have a similar amount of time available within the project timeframe and use it as effectively as possible. If the time invested and the effectiveness - what does the individual achieve in the time available to them? - of one individual is significantly lower than that of other participants, conflicts are unavoidable. The result is a team climate of “boosters” and “followers”.

Technical Excellence

Agile work is always interdisciplinary work and requires sufficient competence of all participants. However, if a team does not have a homogeneous level of excellence, difficulties inevitably arise. If a lack of competence on the part of individual members of a team is combined with the unwillingness to learn new things or to openly deal with this lack of knowledge, the project is additionally burdened.

Talking to each other - open and timely communication

Each individual must be able to explain to the other project participants why and to what objective they have implemented certain things within the project. At the same time, everyone should be open to constructive criticism and feedback. Nothing is set in stone - agile projects grow on the willingly shared knowledge of all project participants. If open communication is not possible, the project is doomed to fail.

Conclusion

To be able to work effectively in an agile manner, you need a trusting and appreciative environment and a homogeneous, motivated, professional team that can work reliably, intensively and closely together.