The challenge we see in many Enterprise IT shops is that it is hard to get everyone across the business who touches application development ‘on board’ with an agile approach. In this blog post I want to share how the CIO of one of our customers has set guidelines which help drive agile project delivery across the business.
The customer is a large Portuguese food distribution and consumer goods manufacturing company, with an international presence. With nearly 25,000 employees they are used to having huge IT projects, involving multiple departments with complex requirements, large budgets and long timelines.
Before agile, many of these projects were delivered late, over budget and in some cases actually failed. In 2005 they became an OutSystems customer; embracing the Agile Platform and an agile methodology. As they matured in their agile practices, the CIO saw the value and today they operate under the CIO’s mandate that only projects scoped with a timeline of less than three months and a budget under 300K will be approved.
What happened before the CIO mandate was put in place? Here’s what they told us:
1. They would spend two to three months in meetings, aligning all opinions in order to create a huge requirements document;
2. When they finally started developing the systems the business team had disappeared and in most cases forgotten about the project;
3. By the time the project was ready to be tested the key users had changed, the business had changed and the project delivery team immediately entered into a lengthy negotiation phase to reconcile what was delivered versus what the business really needed.
This customer states that with the agile methodology and their new CIO mandate they improved the success rate of their projects in several ways:
1. The business team is more motivated and involved as they are able to see how the projects are progressing on a regular basis;
2. The business gets to be more responsible for the decisions that shape the project direction because they see and constantly test the application;
3. The business and IT avoid the costly, wasteful exercise of building complex requirements documents because they now fully realize that they can never document every detail in a specification;
4. From very early on in the project, IT can see if the project is really what the company needs and identify any mis-matches quickly to reduce the amount of time, dollars and resources that might be wasted.
5. Even for big projects, Agile methodology is used – and forces the team to split the project into phases. This exercise divides the scope into smaller, manageable projects with incremental releases and decreased risk.
So, both for this CIO and many others, we are finding that an agile approach to application development really helps increase project success rate and reduce risks. Even in a company like this one that has complex application needs, lots of departments and bureaucracy – agile really works!
What are the technical leaders in your company doing to help drive agile project delivery? Or, what would you like to see them doing?
Share their rules, guidelines and mandates along with your ideas!