Agile development: Built to scale

David Rubinstein
June 15, 2009 —  (Page 1 of 5)
The notion of agile development by now is well known for most every responsible CEO and CIO. With the economy stuck in low gear, organizations need to find ways to shorten development cycles and improve quality, all with the resources they already have on hand.

The Agile Manifesto, which spells out the ideas and practices for its implementation, was written in 2001, and in the eight ensuing years, many organizations have taken the first steps toward agile development. By now, many have had successful projects done by designated agile teams and have realized the cost savings and time-to-market benefits that agile espouses.

Now, these organizations want to reap bigger benefits by bringing agile out of its silos and into a wide deployment, across geographical locations, time zones and language barriers. Yet among the Manifesto’s 12 core principles are that “the most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation,” and “business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.” And there’s the one about “individuals and interactions over processes and tools.”

Those principles would almost seem to inhibit the adoption of agile processes in a large, distributed development organization. So how do organizations scale their agile practices to get a bigger payback?

Not to scale?
Robert Holler, CEO of agile project management software maker VersionOne, took a step back to answer that question. “There are challenges with scale. The problem’s not unique to agile or to software development,” he said. “Scaling is just tough. Sometimes agile gets a black eye for not scaling, but it’s more like, ‘Development doesn’t scale.’”

And Paul Hodgetts, lead consultant at Agile Logic, said that planning before embarking down the agile path is critical.

“There’s no way to get a big organization behind something like this without first thinking it through," he said. "‘Why are we doing this? How will we get everyone on board?’ You must show them a way to get from point A to point B that won’t make their lives miserable for the next 12–18 months.”

Related Search Term(s): agile

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