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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Agile Development for Your Business?

Agile Development and Your Business

Have your IT people been pushing you to get rid of that bad old waterfall project methodology where projects and objectives are clearly defined before you begin to do development?  Then the developers get to figure out what is important and what is not?

Agile development when applied to software development can be of great value, but... Don't let your IT organization push you into abandoning proven project and requirement definition methodologies.

The AGILE methodology was developed to facilitate rapid software development by programmers with an improved level of quality.  It was never intended to define what should be built and what components are more important than others.

Companies that utilize Agile successfully use a hybrid model of software development.  Project and requirements for a project are developed and controlled by the business.  The business and only the business can prioritize the various requirements into "Must Have", "Should Have" and "Nice to Have" general categories.  A well managed project would implement all of the MUST and SHOUD have's and a large percentage of the Nice to have's.

Only the business should be allowed to prioritize and change a MUST have to a SHOULD or "NICE" to have.  Only the business can decide than an item may be deferred to a later project after the primary deliverables are completed.

IBM is a classic example of such a hybrid methodology. IBM has an elaborate and formal process for vetting and prioritizing items that will be included in the next release of a product.  The vetting process includes accounting and finance, marketing,  sales, development, and legal. It works up through several layers until it is reviewed and approved by senior executives in the Software division.  Then and only then is a set of requirements turned over to the developers who use Agile to implement the requirements.  The development manager had better be certain that all of the "MUST Haves, along with the SHOULD haves and some of the Nice to Have's are implemented by the product's release date.

Additionally a representative of the business should participate in the daily scrum meetings and insure that developers are meeting the requirements set forth by the business.

Note that a structure that places responsibility for all IT projects and requirements along with final acceptance of a development project belongs to the business insures success.  IT must be a service organization that supports the business.

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