Six Best Practices for Agile Strategic Planning

A study released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) discusses best practices for implementing Agile software development methodologies within the Federal Government. This study was based on “the identification of numerous examples of lengthy IT projects that incurred cost overruns and schedule delays while contributing little to mission-related outcomes.”

The opportunity for taxpayer savings is considerable, with billions spent on IT projects each year. The Federal IT Dashboard reports that the Department of Transportation alone spent $3.1 Billion on IT projects in FY2013.

In order to reduce costs and more effectively manage IT projects in Federal Agencies, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has recommended implementation of modular or “Agile” software delivery. 

Agile Alliance defines Agile software development as several different types of development methodologies that support “close collaboration between the programmer team and business experts; face-to-face communication (as more efficient than written documentation); frequent delivery of new deployable business value; tight, self-organizing teams; and ways to craft the code and the team such that the inevitable requirements churn (is) not a crisis.”

The (GAO) study is a good reference for preparing an organization for a transition to Agile. Following are six suggested practices from the GAO report that will help in the strategic planning required to prepare an organization for an Agile environment:

Strive for an Agile Mindset. Encourage Agile philosophies throughout the organization rather than focusing on a specific process. Become a crusader for The Agile Manifesto and the 12 corresponding Agile principles.

Allow for Gradual Change. Your organization may need to combine Agile with another project management or development philosophy to ease the transition. Every organizational culture is different, so adapt the process without sacrificing the principles.

Talk with More Experienced Adopters. Look for organizations in the private sector and the public space that may be able to provide guidance. Use social networks to find colleagues willing to share information.

Establish a Change Vision. Use organizational change disciplines as a guide to the desired end result. Focus on communication and a sense of urgency.

Prepare for Challenges. Do not become discouraged when difficulties arise and users try to return to old development methods. Keep a positive attitude and remind others of the vision.

Start with Agile Guidance. Make sure your organization has a basic knowledge of Agile and transition strategies are in place. Don’t spend too much time planning – use transition guidance found from other sources and the Agile Manifesto as a place to start.

With some basic Agile training and sound planning, you can effectively prepare your agency for a transition to Agile.

To continue the discussion about implementing new methodologies or increasing your capacity for Agile development, contact us.




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