Posted by: ahmedashfaque | February 26, 2010

Limitations of agility

Now a days agile software development is a buzz word. We all have been discussing its benefits excitedly. But if anybody wondered its limitations? Let us discuss some of the limitations posed by an agile model.

If you remember last time you wanted to cook Manchurian fried rice. You started well and had your recipe and all the ingredients ready. You started cooking rice in a rice cooker. Then you realized, you wanted to have a plain fried rice and not Manchurian fried rice. So in the middle of your preparations, you changed recipe and ingredients. By the end, what did you get? If it was Manchurian fried rice or plain fried rice? I guess, it was neither of them and instead something in between. In a nutshell, you made a mess.

The same thing can happen when you try to be agile on your software projects. In the middle of your project, your customers want something different than what they originally thought they want. You tried to accommodate as much as possible. The result is something which is neither this nor that. Agility has its own limitations.

In the manufacturing world, agility has been used successfully in inventory management. But when it comes to product management, agility has big limitations from the point of view of changing the vision of the product to be made. You simply can not change the vision of the product in the middle of product development. You wanted to develop a car design which can run on fuel cells. But during the middle of the product development, fuel cell technology which was adopted for this car design became obsolete. Do you think, by that time, the car design can be changed? If you do then a myriad kind of problems will crop up. The end result will be a bad designed car model which will not succeed in the commercial market.

Software development projects are similar endeavors. You are developing a product which should be a successful product to be used by the end users. If you try to accommodate changes which are fundamentally different in vision from the initial vision then the project will fail.

In such cases, agile model or no agile model makes no difference.



  1. how to you accommodate such this in a water fall model or any other model?

    Ok you gave the answer at the end of the blog as

    “In such cases, agile model or no agile model makes no difference.” Then why the title is Limitations of agility?

    • In such cases, it is the management who should take control and not think that the project team can do something about it. The problem is that with all the buzz going around, managements and common people believe that agile is the answer to everything. Which is not the case. Why project teams should be blamed for failed projects if it is not their fault. Unfortunately this happens on many projects!

  2. Good post. I have published myself an elaborate article on the limitations of Agile. The article is fairly balanced and objective. Hope you’ll get the chance to read it and maybe add your own comment.

    • Thanks Bruno for your comments. Indeed Agile has limitations and in near future we will see some more limitations.

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