Originally posted on Management Concept’s Blog: http://blogs.managementconcepts.com/are-you-ready-for-agile/

Has your Agency or organization started moving to Agile? Do you hear the word Scrum, and wonder where the Rugby game is at?

Well, you may be part of the growing trend in IT organizations throughout the Federal Government.

A number of federal agencies have already adopted Agile or are about to move to Agile project management:

  • The U.S. Air Force Academy’s Institute for Information Technology Applications uses an Agile process to develop the Warfighter’s Edge (WEdge)
  • The Automate GI Bill Benefit Initiative is one of 16 VA Transformational Initiatives designated by the Secretary and executed in an Agile Approach
  • The Department of Labor has developed the interagency Customer Service Modernization Program (CSMP) and will be “utilizing a modular development process. Frequent, continuous, and close collaboration between the project team and participating agencies will encourage ongoing process improvements and performance evaluation.”  (Sounds Agile to me)
  • NASA’s enterprise operations moved exclusively to Agile development after officials compared error-tracking logs of traditional projects to early efforts using Agile development. “We’re believers,” said Gene Sullivan, NASA’s associate chief information officer for enterprise portfolio management.
  • Al Tarasiuk, the chief information officer for the CIA, stated that his agency “has also moved completely to Agile project management methodologies”
  • The Census Bureau is considering using Agile development as it creates software for the 2020 Census

I have presented Implementing Agile in the Federal Environment to over 20 different federal agencies or divisions in the last couple of months, and the experience and willingness to adopt Agile ranges the full gamut:

  • One DOJ department who took my class is in their 18th Sprint (monthly development cycle) and going strong.  They have built a core Scrum team and are now leveraging key team members to help launch new Scrum teams.
  • On the other extreme is an agency (not to be named) whose Deputy CIO took the class to evaluate Agile. After the first day hearing about the principles of agile and the benefits, she was ready to sign on the dotted line. By the end of the third day when we performed an activity to assess the organizational readiness using a Force Field analysis, she had reversed her position. Too many entrenched behaviors that would make it difficult to implement Agile.

If you know anything about Agile, you know that it is a transformational approach to project management. Not only are you changing how you deliver software, you are changing every aspect of your organizational structure as it relates to projects, and you are expecting very different behavior from the individuals on your projects. The federal environment has some unique challenges, but many of the challenges are universal to large organizations. The two most common challenges I have faced when talking to agencies or large organizations are creating truly empowered, self-organizing teams, and embracing the Art of Possible.

In future blogs, I will expand to those two challenges and provide recommendations on now to prepare to move to Agile.

About the author

Dan Tousignant, PMP, PMI-ACP is a project manager on Agile projects. He provides Agile Coaching and Training for Management Concepts, Inc.

BE AGILE.®