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GCN : July 2013
Agile development is billed as an iterative, incremental process that can cut down the time it takes build and deliver IT systems to business users. But what makes an agile project successful? How do development teams avoid pitfalls that could sink a project? Various experts from government and industry involved in agile development o er a few tips. 1 Establish strong relationships between IT and business customers. In order for agile to work there has to be a strong relationship between the IT department and contractors with the agency's business customer. The business customer, in turn, has to be able to work where there aren't clearly defined processes, according to Je Newlin, vice president and general manager of OutSystems, a provider of agile technology. The Army's Architecture Services Division within the Software Engineering Center has deployed the company's platform for the rapid development and migration of applications to a private cloud. The business user has to accept the fact that during agile, priorities will change. The business customers also have to become acquainted with a new way of interacting with IT during the course of the project and IT has to respond quickly to adapt to ongoing changes, Hewlin noted. 2 Start small. "It helps to start with a targeted implementation where you focus your initial e ort on projects and teams that are receptive to agile," said John Edgar, vice president of information technology with the U.S. Postal Service, which has standardized on agile development. Getting some initial success helps to sell the concept internally and demonstrate the value of change. Additionally, if managers decide to establish agile as the development process for the organization, make sure it is done across the board. Just focusing agile on one or two projects while using other methodologies for others won't give an agency the critical mass of skill sets and the di erent processes that agile follows, Edgar said. 3 Focus on architecture up-front. On the technical side, there needs to be an up-front focus on architecture. "You have this loose-tight thing going on," where development has to be loose to allow for Ready your agency for agile 20 GCN JULY 2013 • GCN.COM An aggressive time line to replace an old- er vehicle safety inspection system in a mere eight months prompted officials at the Texas Department of Public Safety to consider a more agile approach to system development. An agreement with an existing service provider was set to end on Aug. 31, 2012, and DPS needed to roll out the new so- lution and accompanying hardware to 6,500 car inspection sites across the state. Just defining the requirements might have taken close to eight months using a traditional development approach. "We wanted to make decisions quickly and expedite the development, require- ments and project management pro- cesses to be daily processes," said Erin Hutchins, general manager for NIC Inc., a provider of e-government services work- From Texas to the State Department to USPS, agencies are finding big and small ways to apply agile development tactics. BY RUTRELL YASIN 5 KEY STEPS TO MAKING AGILE DEVELOPMENT