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Sunday, October 25, 2020

So you are doing Agile now?

Fresh off the management hype train is the Agile framework.  Widely touted to turn your company into he next Google it is often misunderstood.  It is a framework for delivering working software.  That is it.  It can be sort of force fit onto other corporate strategies but its origins in creating software will soon become apparent.

Agile was an attempt of several developers to overcome issues with the previous methodology commonly referred to waterfall.  Since projects are planned so far in advance the waterfall method does not take into account that the world changes.  When the changes were less rapid it worked fine.  In the days of Covid where things that used to take a decade now take weeks that is not longer a good strategy.

Agile is designed to quickly develop and ship working software products. It can be applied to other product based processes with some success.  When it is applied to internal IT departments it goes off the rails a bit.  Every internal IT director wants to be as innovative as the next Google.  So why not adopt one of their main process frameworks like Agile.  But you aren’t Google. You buy and install software from other companies that has already been built.  How do you apply the Agile framework to this environment?  You don’t.  It is the wrong fit.

IT needs to be more of an internal consulting firm that serves the business.  That is far different than shipping software.  All software folks should be very keen on developing skills related to creating value for the business.  

When I first started in IT I asked my manager “How is what I do related to the business.”  I was greeted with a stare like my shih-tzu gives me when I make a funny noise.  I now realize this is because what we were doing had no direct relationship to the business of the company.  We were supporting the tech infrastructure of the company and really needed to be invisible.