It’s No Longer Enough to Simply Be Agile

 

SECOND EDITION

Johnny D. Morgan, PhD

General Dynamics Information Technology

Washington, DC area, USA

 


 

ABSTRACT

A tremendous amount of literature has been published about the merits of agile development practices.  But in today’s environment, agile development practices are quickly being supplemented with major technology breakthroughs that enhance software quality, improve enterprise performance and provide business resiliency.  This paper describes three major breakthroughs; services-based architectures, cloud computing, and DevOps practices.   A brief overview of each technology is discussed and how the three technologies working together provide enterprise value.  The paper concludes with a discussion on the skills and talents required to implement these technologies.

Key Words: agile, cloud, cultural shifts, development, DevOps, elastic computing, information technology, IT skills, operations, organizational structures, pipelines, DevSecOps, software development, software services, testing

This paper is based on empirical observations, current literature, and engineering and project management experiences.

INTRODUCTION

Since the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was published in 2001, a tremendous amount of literature has been published that documents many agile software development frameworks such as Scrum, Kanban, and Extreme Programming.  These software development frameworks have similar characteristics.  All potential product features are placed into a feature backlog and prioritized for development, with the highest value features being developed first.  Agile teams execute time-boxed work periods, typically called sprints, to develop these features.

These sprints typically range from two to four weeks. Each agile team is composed of a small group of multi-disciplined developers that are focused on the continual delivery of valuable software.   Within each team there is a Product Owner who is the voice of the customer, prioritizes the feature backlog, and accepts the delivery of each feature.  There is also a person that facilitates team meetings and eliminates blocking issues that are inhibiting team progress.  Within the Scrum methodology, this person is called the Scrum Master.  There is a regular cadence of meetings within each sprint. The sprint commences with a Sprint Kickoff Meeting that determines what features the team will develop within the sprint.  There are Daily Standup Meetings where the team reviews progress, identifies any blocking issues, and assigns work to be perform next.  A Sprint Completion Meeting is held at the end of each sprint to review, with customers and users outside of the agile team, the actual delivery of the features that were developed during the sprint.  Within the agile team, a Sprint Retrospective Meeting is also held where the team can identify and address potential improvements to team performance.

More recently, frameworks have been developed to scale agile development practices from a single team to multiple agile teams working in parallel to deliver larger systems.  The most popular framework is the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) which adds additional team resources and process elements to synchronize the alignment, collaboration, development, and integration mechanisms of multiple agile teams to deliver large, more complex systems (Leffingwell and others 2017).

In today’s environment, agile development practices are quickly being supplemented with major technology breakthroughs that enhance software quality, improve enterprise performance, and provide business resiliency.  This paper describes three major breakthroughs; services-based architectures, cloud computing, and DevOps practices.

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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 6th Annual University of Maryland PM Symposium in May 2019.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Morgan, J.D. (2019). It’s No Longer Enough to Simply Be Agile; presented at the 6th Annual University of Maryland Project Management Symposium, College Park, Maryland, USA in May 2019; published in the PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue VI, July.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/pmwj83-Jul2019-Morgan-No-Longer-Enough-To-Simply-Be-Agile.pdf

 


 

About the Author


Johnny D. Morgan, PhD

General Dynamics Information Technology
Virginia, USA

 

 

 

Dr. Morgan has 39 years of systems engineering and project management experience. While serving in the United States Navy and then employed with IBM, Lockheed Martin and currently General Dynamics, he has assisted numerous Department of Defense and Intelligence Community customers in the management and execution of their information technology portfolios. Supplementing his experience, he has received a Bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Sciences from the University of Florida, a Master’s degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California, and a Doctorate degree in Systems Engineering from the George Washington University. Dr. Morgan’s industry certifications include the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional certification, the International Council on Systems Engineering Expert System Engineering Professional certification, and multiple agile and Amazon Web Services certifications. He can be contacted at johnny.morgan@gdit.com