How to SWITCH to Agile in the Federal LandscapeJames Barclay
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The White House has recognized the need for change in the federal government in order to efficiently address advancing technologies and to deliver value to customers by taking advantage of those new technologies. This modernization in the way the government develops software will provide efficiencies in the long term. The effort to realize those efficiencies will require a significant shift in culture from traditional waterfall development to a culture of agile development; which will result in saving time, resources, and most importantly, delivering value to the end- user. Our agency has been in the process of transitioning away from the traditional waterfall development for the past 24 months. In our experience, the adoption of agile is not as simple as choosing a framework and immediately executing it. The challenges we face are not inconsequential and need to be addressed. These challenges include: • Shifting toward a culture of urgency, accountability, and value • Servant leadership & management support • Change management • Lean-Agile budgeting and estimation • The dangers of up-front requirements • Participation and collaboration in traditionally stove-piped organizations As is described in the book “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” knowledge is not enough to change behavior. Therefore, knowledge alone of an agile framework is not enough to transition away from a deep seeded foundation of inefficiencies and bureaucratic behavior. Agile is a new destination, and you need to determine how you are going to reach that destination. It is as if you have a vehicle, a map, and the organizational challenge to convince everyone that the trip is worth the effort. Understanding the inherent challenges within the government, communicating those challenges, and sharing those experiences and results, are all part of that journey.