Agile software development, why every business ahould know about it

The name conjures up interesting images that appeal to most directors and senior managers, but when it is all discussed in the open and fully understood, the enthusiasm sometimes evaporates to a whispered yes. Why should this be?
Well I know of a number of reasons:
1. Agile done badly dispenses with change control, from requirements, technical specifications control, all the things that a business feels protects them from misuse of their budgets and at the same time all the things that prevent programmers from grinding the world to a halt with their vision of what a system should be.
Everyone has a great time for a period and then it all comes home to roost and back to waterfall, the BA, the signed-off documents and formal everything.
2. Agile done well shares responsibility for the success of IT projects equally and fairly between the business leaders and the system designers, developers and maintainers.
They’ve had it easy for years blaming it all on IT departments and bemoaning the fact that “these fellows talk gibberish we don’t understand”. IT ranks just ahead of Estate agents and Lawyers at the moment and not all unearned, so it is easy to generate sympathy and blame it all on IT. Now the tide is turned, communication is there, gibberish is gone and decisions are made and shared out in the open with shared accountability.
Not everyone has the stomach for this.
3. Agile is different. It does not feel comfortably familiar and it’s not always easy, especially in the beginning, to see what is coming and why it will work. A bit like trusting your Sat Nav for the first time.
4. Most people claiming to do agile are just flying by the seat of their pants. This is like comparing Billy Connolly , renowned ad lib stand-up comedian to a drunk who thinks he is funny. The only thing they have in common is that they both appear to be ad lib. And of course one is.
Agile works and delivers tens of millions in value every year, so why should you be using it?
Here’s why;
· Agile gives you the thing you need most and it delivers it on time so you can stay competitive and stay in control of your business.
· Agile puts you completely in control of your IT department for the very first time.
That’s pretty strong stuff and here’s how it works;
History shows that between 15% and 20% of the functionality in any system is still in use after one year. Much if this is down to the way requirements are gathered and accepted conventions in the world of software engineering that are never tested against a business case. E.g. reusability.
The time and cost overruns that drove you to distraction were nearly all spent on the 80% of that system that was rarely or never used.
Agile can’t entirely remove the wastage, because only an element of inspired stargazing could predict every change in circumstances coming your way, but it can reduce this wastage to an absolute minimum..
Agile quickly focuses your thinking on the core functionality that you desperately need and the bear minimum implementation that will work for the business and it gives you this quickly. They used to call this “Low hanging fruit”. Then based on demand from your stakeholders and users and a sound business case, it fleshes this out to the optimum system in bite-sized , low-risk chunks.
If you took lean or six sigma principals and you applied them to the waterfall process for software development, you would end up with agile
An early lean evangelist spoke of a spoon bending factory that bent blanks into spoon shapes and sold them to spoon manufacturers. The business shad sales, shipping, HR and the usual refinements, but the only time and place value was created was under the hammer when it bent the metal blank. Everything else that happened in that business was creating waste and the purpose of lean is to reduce that waste.
Agile gives you the hammer first, this way you are creating value quickly, then it looks at your other needs

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