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InfoQ Homepage News March Issue of the Agile Journal Examines Top-Down Agile Adoption

March Issue of the Agile Journal Examines Top-Down Agile Adoption

The Agile Journal's March issue examined how organizations can and do adopt Agile practices in a top-down fashion. Liz Barnett, editor in chief of the Agile Journal, wrote that top-down support within an organization is essential for any wide-spread adoption. It is not enough that agile initiatives have grass roots support, management must be involved.
Agile processes are intended to empower teams to produce high quality products that meet their customers' needs. Empowerment is the key factor. Therefore, in order for Agile development to scale, management must support this empowerment and focus on leadership rather than control.

Liz then recommended that we, the proponents of Agile adoption within an organization, be prepared to answer common questions:

1. How and why will this approach work.

For years, developers have presented new methodologies and techniques to improve their software delivery capabilities. Managers have long memories...

Agile teams can communicate how they can deliver value and then demonstrate that commitment in early iterations, the buy-in will follow. Teams must educate the managers and help them move to a new set of metrics that reflect a project's progress towards delivering business value.

2. How will existing tools be used?

Note that the question asks "how" the tools will be used and not "if" they will be used. ... These tools may not have been intended to support such iterative and incremental development, but many teams have been successful in adapting their legacy ALM (application lifecycle management) tools to support Agile projects. 

3. How will you fit with our governance program?

Many projects are turning to management tools - from traditional project management vendors or new Agile providers - to communicate status and value-oriented metrics.

Probably the biggest misconception for managers is that Agile projects do not provide sufficient documentation.

4. How will you work with the Program Management Office?

This could be the toughest question to answer. Small steps are necessary, especially in large organizations where the project or program management office (PMO) has oversight for portfolio planning, resource allocation, and project monitoring and reporting.

Finally, Liz suggested that the best way to sell managers is to build on previous Agile success. The word 'sell' is not a mistake, in fact she went further to recommend that Agile teams invest in a good PR strategy that is understood by the business community and not just IT.

There were many more interesting and thought-provoking articles in the March issue of the Agile Journal. Dave McMunn discussed ways to build trust between IT and management. Amr Elssamadisy and John Mufarrige wrote about using Agile, Lean, and Theory of Constraints together to deliver targeted business value, which is one of the best ways to build trust between IT and business. Guy Beaver, in the Agile-V Scorecard, told us that the burn-down chart is not enough and augments iteration tracking with the burn-up chart also for increased visibility into a team's progress.

The theme of Top Down Agile Adoption is well worth a read if you are currently in an adoption situation.

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