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Governance Behaviours that Result in Success with Agile

| by Shane Hastie Follow 28 Followers on Oct 14, 2014. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

Brian Wernham published an article in The Times newspaper in which he identifies seven important management behaviours which are necessary for the successful implementation of agile practices, especially in government departments which are moving to the new way of working.

The UK government provides a Service Design Manual for government deparments and agencies, which includes guidelines on how to adopt and apply agile practices. This manual identifies a number of key principles for development of digital products, including the explicit instruction to

Build the service using the agile, iterative and user-centred methods set out in the manual. 

These guidelines came into effect in April 2014 as the "Digital by Default Service Standard

In his article, Wernham identifies the governance behaviours which he maintains are necessary to ensure that the application of the standard is successful,

  1. “Show me” -  Agile management insists on seeing a new product early before committing.
  2. Be incremental -  Incremental delivery of change means fast feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
  3. Expect early business benefits - US government statistics show the majority of projects that run longer than a year with no intermediate deliveries never deliver, no matter how detailed and convincing their business cases are.
  4. Go for smooth flow of work - The nearer you can get the workload to be consistent and regular, the less likely you are to be surprised by a big problem.
  5. Never slip a deadline - When things get difficult, and they always do, a wise agile manager will cut the expectations of scope and get the team to focus on the really important aspects of the innovation for immediate delivery.
  6. Reduce work in progress - Treat any capitalisation of unused software assets from quarter to quarter and especially over year-ends as potentially lethal.
  7. Talk to people - Dangerous group-think can occur when risk reporting becomes a hierarchical exercise driven by spreadsheets, rather than informed discussion.

He makes the bold claim that "Expert agile practitioners at the coal face are now a good ten to twenty years ahead of current top management practice."

The UK Association for Project Management is producing an Agile Governance guide which will be available in 2015. 

InfoQ recently reported on another guide to critical success factors which has been produced for US Federal Government projects.

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