Agile for Government Programs

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About this Paper

Agile for everyone. Yes, it can be done. As the Agile Manifesto methodology matures, the values it offers engineering teams remain, but its principles, including continuous and frequent delivery, harnessing change for mission delivery, efficient multi-team collaboration—and the resulting benefits of faster prioritization and production—have many program offices stymied about adapting Agile to their ways of working.

Like any professional process, Agile requires learning some new skills to gain the promised benefits. You can’t have engineers working Agile while the program office and project teams, and others responsible for overseeing planning and execution, are left behind. Most often, Agile has only been embraced by the development team and the challenge is addressing how the rest of the organization will adapt to the new process.

We often hear questions like:

  • What are we really building? What happens to the requirements?
  • How do we keep everyone in the loop when we’re not in the same office for daily standup meetings?
  • How do we control scope and manage change?
  • How do we know what the development team will deliver at the end of the sprint?

This white paper addresses five of the major challenges that we’ve seen lead to Agile failure, as well as solutions to make Agile hum for your organization. We’ll use “Agile” as an umbrella term to represent all forms of iterative development whether it is SCRUM, SAFe, Lean Software Development or others. We also won’t get into the specific tactical challenges of running “retrospectives,” writing good “user stories,” or “grooming backlogs,” but we will target some of the root cause challenges with suggestions on how to be successful.