What Are the Disadvantages of Agile?

Agile might be everywhere these days, but for as much praise as the methodology gets, what are the disadvantages of Agile? As it turns out, Agile isn’t for everyone. So before you embark on a big Agile revolution, be sure to keep in mind these disadvantages of Agile.

A Background on Agile

Before we discuss the disadvantages of Agile, let’s review what this methodology is all about. Originally developed for software delivery, Agile emphasizes delivering products in small increments.

This incremental delivery comes with many advantages, as it allows teams to bring new products (or at least parts of them) to market faster, incorporate customer feedback along the way and easily experiment with new features.

5 Key Disadvantages of Agile Methodology

Despite the benefits that Agile can offer, it’s not for everyone. As a result, it’s important to be aware of the disadvantages of Agile methodology. With that in mind, here are five key disadvantages of Agile:

  1. Poor Resource Planning: Because Agile is based on the idea that teams won’t know what their end result (or even a few cycles of delivery down the line) will look like from day one, it’s challenging to predict efforts like cost, time and resources required at the beginning of a project (and this challenge becomes more pronounced as projects get bigger and more complex).
  2. Limited Documentation: In Agile, documentation happens throughout a project, and often “just in time” for building the output, not at the beginning. As a result, it becomes less detailed and often falls to the back burner.
  3. Fragmented Output: Incremental delivery may help bring products to market faster, but it’s also a big disadvantage of Agile methodology. That’s because when teams work on each component in different cycles, the complete output often becomes very fragmented rather than one cohesive unit.
  4. No Finite End: The fact that Agile requires minimal planning at the beginning makes it easy to get sidetracked delivering new, unexpected functionality. Additionally, it means that projects have no finite end, as there is never a clear vision of what the “final product” looks like.
  5. Difficult Measurement: Since Agile delivers in increments, tracking progress requires you to look across cycles. And the “see-as-you-go” nature means you can’t set many KPIs at the start of the project. That long-game makes measuring progress difficult.

Mitigating the Disadvantages of Agile Methodology

The disadvantages of Agile methodology make clear that it’s not for everyone. So what can you do?

Mitigating the disadvantages of Agile methodology requires taking more of a Lean approach by emphasizing the importance of:

  1. Delivering value through a quality end product rather than simply delivering a working product
  2. Managing a clear process for delivering that product, not an uncertain route determined along the way

Armed with knowledge about the disadvantages of Agile methodology, it’s time to take a look at how Agile might affect your projects. And if you find the disadvantages of Agile outweigh the benefits, remember that there are alternative methodologies for delivering better products efficiently.

Try LeanKit Free!

You're in good company.

Our customers are the best. Read their stories.

Learn More about LeanKit