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G.I. Agile: Defining Agile for the Federal Government

Software Development, Agile

By Bob Wen

In October of 2018, the Department of Defense did a few things unprecedented in the Agile development space.  The Defense Innovation Board released a document for open publication and review providing guidance to Department of Defense programs struggling with Agile development. This document, The DIB Guide: Detecting Agile BS, is remarkable in a couple of ways: (1) it shows another effort at bringing Agile methods into that "last bastion" of Agile development, Government agencies (2) it does so in a transparent way, a hallmark for Agile development.

The purpose of the document is to outline what "smells" Agile development has versus what may only be a pale imitation ("water-scrum-fall", anyone?).  To help, the document authors start with the four values of the Agile Manifesto and put them into "DOD-speak".

From there, the authors look at practices that are clear signs that Agile development is not practiced.  If these "anti-practices" are the way things are done, that particular program is not adopting Agile development.

Tools and automation form the next topic the document authors tackle.  They give a brief overview on the tools and what disciplne in the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) they are used.  Jira is mentioned by name, but meant as an example, not an endorsement.

Finally, the authors have a list of example questions to ask specific members of the program, from developers, to stakeholders, to program leadership.

Can this document help your team out even if you don't do development on a DoD program?  I think that looking at how others do things may provide some guidance to see where your own efforts fall short.  "Adjust" is an important part of the PDCA cycle.

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TAGS: Software Development, Agile

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