Speed and agility
Developing applications can be a tricky business in an enterprise setting. The people who identify the need or opportunity for an app rarely have the skills to develop it, and so the complicated process of putting a team together to push the project to completion has to be started.
But exactly how should that project be managed? The business function likes to know in advance how long and how much it will take to get the job done. But this approach can limit the creativity and talent of the people tasked with actually fulfilling the brief. Taking a talent-centric approach to the job can yield some tangible benefits, but this approach is not without its controversy.
The Agile Manifesto, published in 2001, stipulated that application development requirements and solutions are best handled through collaboration between self-organising, cross-functional teams. The idea is simple — instead of long development periods culminating in the release of a fully featured application, developers using the agile methodology produce software in increments, adding features bit by bit, getting their application out faster and making it more relevant by allowing it to evolve as it develops.
Better, faster, more
For the enterprise, this means that they ultimately get better designed applications, delivered faster and costing less. However, the price is a loosening of the leash of the development function. And in large enterprises, culture can be the hardest thing to change.
“One of the important factors in making this work is getting senior management buy-in. For it to be effective, you need to really educate senior management on what’s in it for them and how this is going to produce business benefits,” said Colm Ó hEocha, director of development house Agile Innovation.
“If it’s just treated as some mysterious thing that IT do that may have an upside, then you’re not really going to get significant benefits. It’s also the case that if a company is outsourcing and so is used to fixed price, fixed scope contracts then the idea of agile can be hard for them to get their heads around.”