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How to get agile to work at your company

Rich Hein | March 29, 2016
Transitioning from waterfall to agile development can be like shooting the rapids. IT industry experts share advice on how to not get crushed on the rocks.

According to The 9th Annual State of Agile Report, released last year by VerizonOne (in conjunction with independent survey consultants, Analysis.Net Research) 94 percent of the organizations are practicing agile development. The report collected data from 3,925 respondents to determine the challenges organizations face when implementing agile.

According to our experts, it requires a shift in thinking for all parties involved and the full support of C-suite leadership, the business and developer teams. Here are some things to consider when making the transition from waterfall to agile.

Vs. Waterfall

"The waterfall development model is also known as the classic or traditional model for the systems development life cycle for software engineering/development. It is described as a linear and sequential model that has distinct goals for each phase. Once you proceed to the next phase, you cannot turn back, just like a waterfall flowing over steps of rock down a mountainside, "says Joe Mack an Enterprise Technology Transformation Consultant with Transphorm. The waterfall process works best in situations where expectations are clear and stakeholders and clients don't have the ability to change the scope of the project. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of real-world IT problems that fall into that category.

"One of the major benefits of agile over waterfall is that you see a deliverable on an iterative basis and the Product Owner can decide to make changes to the product backlog, "says Sudhakar Gorti the CIO for Environmental Data Resources.

Getting agile right

Before taking on this transformation, organizations need to know what problems they are working to solve and how agile can solve those problems. Companies must also contemplate the following: What would you consider a successful outcome? How committed is your business to the transformation? Will your culture support this change? Do you need outside help?

Agile can do great things for your organization. It can create engagement between teams and workers that don't regularly collaborate. It can increase the quality of the code your teams create. It can shorten time to market. Increase customer satisfaction. It can reduce development costs too. But only if it's done right. "Done badly, agile development will create a lot more problems than it solves," said Nathan Wilson, research director at Gartner in a recent press release.

Get everyone on board

agile vs waterfall digital transformation
Joe Mack Link to full size size - Agile vs waterfall

According to Gartner, the agile transformation is what it describes as a joint business-IT activity and requires everyone from the CEO to developers in the trenches to be moving in the same direction. "Use of agile methods has the capability to transform IT-business relationships and have a major positive impact on IT value delivery. However, the value will be delivered only if the CIO and the entire IT management team are dedicated to the culture change that is necessary for success," Wilson said.


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