Agile Software Development Hits Stride After Years of Evangelism

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-04-01 Print this article Print

Catalyst is an Agile app services shop with development centers in Baltimore and in Portland, Ore. "We marry big data with team assembly," Rosenbaum said. "We collect large amounts of data and then build algorithms that find the right developers and put them on the right teams and then we put these teams with the right clients. It lets us match the culture of the team to the culture of the client. It also lets us deploy teams of up to 15 people anywhere in the U.S. within 24 hours. "

Meanwhile, back to the question of Agile payoff, Laszlo Szalvay, vice president of Scrum business at CollabNet, said it is difficult to quantify payoff "because you can look at it from a number of different angles, such as financially, employee retention or time-to-market. We're seeing a broad but shallow adoption of Agile globally."

Szalvay said one of CollabNet's major Agile success stories is helping Intel's product development engineering group implement Scrum. Scrum had four major impacts at Intel: reduced cycle time, the elimination of schedule slips and missed commitments, improved morale and increased transparency.

"Scrum has been a major contributor to a consistent, repeatable, 66 percent cycle time reduction in the creation of our work product," wrote Pat Elwer, a principal engineer at Intel, in a report on the Scrum project.

In another use case, used Serena Software tools to move to Agile. The company's technology team is divided into separate groups that support the consumer-facing Website. Each group typically does two-week sprints and has its own release plans and deployment schedule.'s move to Agile has progressed and has led to streamlined releases. But there's room for further advances, said Matt Stratton, director of technology operations for "We want to get to a level of maturity in release management where the Agile development teams are responsible for releases and for all the steps leading up to a deployment, and the production operations teams take it from there," said Stratton.

Meanwhile, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta moved to Agile with VersionOne's tools. Before adopting Agile, FHLBank Atlanta was struggling with software quality and delayed releases, said Greg King, assistant director of IT software delivery at the bank. Since adopting Agile, the bank is now seeing a 92 percent reduction in open production defect tickets, on-time and within budget project delivery, and improved collaboration between software delivery and business units, among other benefits, King said.

Yet, despite proven benefits of Agile, barriers to its adoption exist, such as cultural barriers that prevent some teams from accepting the Agile way of life.

"This year's survey highlighted a major disconnect between the perceived level of executive knowledge about Agile and the importance of having executive-level buy-in for Agile to truly succeed," said Robert Holler, CEO and president of VersionOne, regarding the "State of Agile" survey.

Mik Kersten, CEO of Tasktop, told eWEEK that in spite of all that's good with Agile, there are two key problems with it. One is that Agile started as developer-centric, and is now being driven from the executive office.

The other is that "today's Agile deployments are focused on shortening iterations in development," Kersten said. "That works great for small teams and for many ISVs. It's less great when traditional requirements, quality management and large-scale operations are in the loop and running at very different cadences.

"To get the benefit of Agile in the large, we need to stop ignoring those disciplines, and to apply the concepts of Lean Manufacturing to the end-to-end software lifecycle," he continued. "Our Agile development practices need to evolve into "Lean ALM" [application lifecycle management] processes that connect each of the stakeholders of software delivery in an integrated build-measure-learn loop."


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