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More than half of CIOs have lost confidence in Agile IT projects

Failed Agile IT projects are costing the UK £37bn a year, leaving many CIOs sceptical about the Agile methodology.

Independent consultancy 6point6 interviewed 300 CIOs in the US and UK to get their views on Agile development and found that, despite the hype, the methodology does not always work in practice.

More than two thirds (73 per cent) of the respondents felt that Agile had become an industry in its own right, and half of the CIOs went as far as to say that they thought Agile had become an ‘IT fad’. 

Meanwhile, it found that more than a third (34 per cent) of the Agile projects that CIOs had been involved with were either a partial or a total failure – with only seven per cent of CIOs stating that Agile had never failed them.

This is leaving many of the CIOs with a strong scepticism of Agile – over half (52 per cent) have lost confidence in the methodology and believe that it has been ‘discredited’.

There were several reasons why CIOs felt that Agile projects had not delivered. Nearly one-third (32 per cent) of respondents suggested that geographical disbursement of their teams as one of the main causes of failure.

At the same time, 30 per cent of CIOs had seen organisations attempt to stretch a single team across multiple Agile projects.

6point6 suggested that by attempting to make Agile teams do too much by working on multiple projects concurrently without a well-recognised methodology for scaling up, they were setting projects up for failure.

The inability to track the Agile team’s progress against milestones or goals resulting in a lack of accountability, as well as an over-extended dependency on the software delivery team, were other factors that hindered Agile IT projects.

Forty-four per cent – or 112 of the 300 CIOs – said that in their experience, when Agile IT projects fail, one of the main causes is the failure to produce enough (or in some cases any) documentation.

CIOs also suggested there was a fragility of Agile leadership, citing ‘lack of senior sponsorship’ as one of the main causes of failure in 20 per cent of cases. A lack of planning and an absence of any strategic vision were other reasons given for Agile IT project failure.

In the UK, CIOs told 6point6 that 12 per cent of Agile projects fail completely. However, its extrapolation of the £37bn total cost probably doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny: 

“Given that CIOs in the UK forecast that, on average, they will be involved in six Agile IT projects over the next year, that the average cost of an Agile IT project in the UK stands at around £8m, and that there are roughly 6,000 CIOs in the UK, if nothing changes, Agile IT failure is set to cost the UK £37bn over the course of the next 12 months,” the report claimed. 

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