Facilitating the Spread of Knowledge and Innovation in Professional Software Development

Write for InfoQ


Choose your language

InfoQ Homepage News Does Agile Drive Death March Projects?

Does Agile Drive Death March Projects?

Leia em Português

This item in japanese

Lire ce contenu en français

 In a recent Gartner blog Thomas Murphy raises the spectre of Agile projects becoming continual Death March cycles.

He says that in a 12 month waterfall project teams may have 10 months of "normal" life followed by 2 months of hell as the pressure is on to deliver to unrealistic deadlines and scope.

In contrast, in an Agile project with two week iterations:

That is a possibility for 26 sprints per year. If two of the working days of your 10 day sprint are a death march, that is 52 days per year vs. 40 days in the “annual” program. A more than 25% increase in death march days

He goes on to talk about the importance of the Agile principle of Sustainable Pace and says

The question is what is sustainable. I am hearing stories that don’t sound like only the last 2 days of a sprint are a death march. Every day feels like a death march. This isn’t a new topic, I have included links below to some posts on the topic. Organizations, actually teams, need to determine what is sustainable for the team. WIP limits need to be understood. A freeway filled to 100% capacity is a parking lot. Don’t let a shift to agile mean a shift to constant running. Global business and mobile devices only make this a more challenging battle.

He references a number of posts which discuss the need for sustainable pace and realistic working conditions, including a discussion on the Big Visible blog that tackles how to achieve sustainability:

When reading literature about Agile or talking to practitioners we often hear the term “sustainable pace.” Anyone who is overworked might think two things: Sustainable pace sounds wonderful and impossible. Upon discussing the term, many people struggle with believing that the required work could be accomplished under this constraint. Some think that software creation and sustainable pace are mutually exclusive.

He is far from the only commentator talking about these things.  Last month Ben Linders posted an InfoQ news item looking at how to achieve a sustainable pace. 

Rate this Article