Agile in Enterprise – Guidelines from DOD  

Found while looking for cases of Agile applied to software implementations (vs development), in large, risk averse enterprises. The white paper handbook, dated 2010, describes Agile principles and methods (presented against other and traditional approaches), provides rationale, case examples and guidelines for application within DOD enterprise projects.

Quotes of note, in the context of Healthcare IT projects:

DOD acquisition projects typically follow a highly structured, top-down, step-by-step process, based on the assumption that an end state is known. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case in modern IT projects. Long development cycles and rapidly changing requirements make it difficult to properly identify the end state of an IT system at the onset of the project.

True of healthcare organizations? Check!

The Standish Group (2009) reports that over 68% of IT projects are delivered late, over budget, or do not fully address the required system functionality (Johnson, 2009).


Agile methods are not ―all or nothing‖ approaches. It is appropriate to pick and choose practices from various methodologies as needed.
Agile should not be viewed as a solution solely for new development projects. It should be considered for all projects that involve software intensive systems, including but not limited to: IT systems, embedded systems, and equipment under control.
One of the keys to a successful Agile development project is that the entire team have Agile experience.

The challenge for healthcare IT. Few IT depts have any experience, being implementation centric, whereas Agile is relatively new and emerged within the software development paradigm.

IT projects are no longer organized or executed in a stove-piped fashion. The success of projects requires interactions with other program offices and projects that may follow a more traditional development model.


Furthermore, Gantt charts have some inherent flaws that keep them from being a useful day-to-day planning tool for Agile projects. The first flaw is that every task must be time estimated and assigned a date to be performed. When planning a year out, or even further, this is impractical…. Gantt charts are focused on dependencies. The fault in being overly concerned with dependencies is that there really isn‘t much of a need to track dependencies on a project level.


Agile software development is not a “silver bullet” and these practices and methodologies must be implemented with care.
When implemented correctly, Scrum focuses on quick insertion of incremental capability that is driven by user feedback. It also creates a program management structure that is conducive to dealing with constant change.

September 30th, 2012