• Corina Paraschiv

Agile for Healthcare: 5 Pitfalls to Avoid




While the concept behind Agile is laudable, there are pitfalls which can be worth planning for. After eight years operating daily with Agile, I can confidently say these pitfalls are common, yet preventable. This article highlights the top 5 pitfalls your healthcare team may plan for and offers a free downloadable guide to plan your Agile transition strategy.

Pitfall #1: The Moving Target

When decisionmakers take on a project, they want to know the project's scope. Yet, Agile means signing the contract before clearly determining the scope.

This is the source of two common problems: (1) Since a clear scope is traditionally a prerequisite for obtaining a budget, it may be difficult to obtain buy-in, and (2) since the scope is a moving target, it may be at odds with you (internal) clients’ expectations.

Pitfall #2: The Mis-Estimated Sprint

Committing to a sprint requires a reasonable understanding of the workload and the team’s capacity. In Agile, estimates are imprecise, because they do not account for the programmer’s level of seniority.

This can easily lead to mis-calibrated sprints and delays on the critical path.

Pitfall #3: The Technical Debt

In order to successfully close a sprint, all stories within the spring must be completed. In Agile, timely delivering a solution that works well in the short-term (with intention for rework) can be considered preferable to engineering a longer-term solution that would fail the sprint.

This built-in incentive can sometimes create what is dubbed “technical debt” – that is, sprint delivery with known re-work required in the future.

Pitfall #4: The Cost of Benching The mis-estimation pitfall previously mentioned also creates an added, implicit cost. For every over-estimated sprint, your (internal) client will be paying for people to be “on the bench” – that is, idle.

While adding stories mid-sprint is the most common method to tackle this mis-estimation, the quality of the last-minute features can suffer. It can also impact the quality of the specifications for the upcoming sprint, as the analyst shifts his attention away from the next sprint’s requirements gathering.

Pitfall #5: The Cost of Under-Documenting

Tests and Sprint Acceptance are built on a common understanding of scope. In Agile, the product owner has discretion over how lean to make the documentation.

Driven to an extreme, lean documentation can create over-dependency on the product owner. It may make bug tracking and test execution longer. It may also lead to unnecessary reworks as the client visualizes a feature for the first time only after development.

Reflecting on your healthcare organization’s readiness and current practices can help put in place measures that will ensure your shift to Agile is successful.


Download Your Free Agile Transition Strategy Guide


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