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Jan 08

How can you use agile to put a stake in the ground

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This is my first post for Agile Things in 2013, so I thought I’d start by setting my own stall out on agile. For me, agile represents two things. With an application development hat on, agile is about delivering value back to the business in a faster, higher quality and more efficient way than traditional software development is able to achieve.

 

From a wider business perspective, this position on value is just as important. My role is in value engineering at Serena, and this involves speaking to business management about the role that IT plays across the entire organisation. What most agile implementations cover is a small part of that overall process and role for IT, and this has to change.

 

Agile is designed to get value back to the organisation faster. However, each agile project does not exist in isolation. If the rest of IT can’t keep up with what is being developed, or if the business does not understand how it has to be involved, then optimal result are never achieved.

 

Think of it this way. An agile development team could deliver a new piece of software that meets the requirements of the business, followed by three updates that respond to how that new application is being used. From this side, everything looks rosy.

 

However, from the production IT side, they have now had to deal with four releases in the time that they would normally have had one. Each of those deployments took time and manpower to support. After this, the service desk had some challenges as new users within the business were clamouring for access to the application, as they had heard great things about what it could do for them as well.

 

This emphasis on the results and impact of agile are part of what has led to greater collaboration between development and operations. Solving challenges like release management can be the difference between agile being a nice approach for the dev team to use and it being a business changing, competitive differentiator. The DevOps movement is taking on the issues that exist for agile and looking at how culture and understanding lead to greater business value.

 

Agile is not a panacea. What it offers is the opportunity to change how organisations think about and run their IT, based on the value that software and people can create. However, without the wider perspective on what agile can deliver and how it changes delivery of value back to the organisation, it may not provide the value that it sets out to achieve.

 

My posts on Agile Things will therefore try to distill all that is great about agile but will always place it in the context of the wider business goals. My aim is to provide readers with materials that they can use to put their own stakes in the ground for agile, not just in development but also across their organisation. Because agile can be the biggest opportunity to make a difference in general, not just in development.

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