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How to use agile development to avoid project failures

Sharon Florentine | Feb. 6, 2014
The rocky rollout of Healthcare.gov is a very public example of a larger issue of software product failures. Can an agile development framework allow software companies to avoid such project management headaches themselves.

"Any development team can say, 'Look, I can give you a quick hack that'll meet a business need,' but what does that really get you if you're not focused on a holistic business outcome," Bargmann says.

"What that translates to is the old developer analogy of the 'squirrel burger.' If your customer says, 'I need a burger. Right now,' and the developers say, 'Well, that's going to take a certain amount of time to raise the meat, grind it, flatten it into a patty, cook it &' but the customer says, 'Just give me anything,' then you end up with a 'squirrel burger.' It's some meat slapped between two slices of bread — it's 'something,' but it's not what you need. It's not what you asked for, and it certainly doesn't meet the business or the customer needs," Bargmann says.

Going agile for its own sake won't change the business outcome, says Klaussen, if you're not addressing the collaboration and iteration parts of the problem. "It turns out that being successful with a smaller amount of functionality is much better than failing with a grand plan. The extra time it takes to rework the failed vision will take longer, and be a much more painful road for everyone involved," he says.

 

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