Experts.. I am inclined to believe that Agile in its pure form “as defined” by itself without modification cannot work in the Department of Defense as it is written today. I don’t think the DoD is prepared to implement agile in the way of policy, standards or effective and practical guidance. I don’t believe that agile project management as defined aligns with DoD IT acquisition. Tell me why I am wrong. Show me examples and show me where DoD enterprise policy, standards and guidance align outside of HR 2467 which to me doesn’t say much. I am asking because my research is telling me that agile is great for small teams and great for well controlled environments and great for developers but not great for the Department of Defense. I have a strong desire to learn where I am wrong here and if you can educate me on this I will republish and use this information for my projects and beyond.
A few years back I was working on a project as the System Integrator for a fairly sizable enterprise wide SOA project. My career path was different from most in technology as I started by processing silicone wafers. I was a production operator for an IBM holding called MiCrus. After some time and interest in computers from years of playing with them as a hobby I started assembling them professionally. I worked as a technician for a small BBS and later internet provider and so began my career. I always worked alongside developers but I never became one. I actually had no interest in programming other than determining when code was a problem. As most technicians I played around with anything I needed to in order to resolve problems. Over the years I moved from technical support on a local level to helpdesk and technical support on the enterprise level. Not long after, I started to learn and become proficient in enterprise system deployment and project management. Over the years I continued to work with developers and engineers.
Fast forward a few years… I have now configured and deployed large systems pulling together all of the components and people required to meet and exceed organizational goals and objectives. I became involved with SOA concepts and enterprise services. Thomas Erl pulled together a group of experts and they started working on the SOA Manifesto. The SOA Manifesto was created in the same spirit and idea as the Agile Manifesto. I haven’t been formally trained in Agile methods and I am actually signed up to take a class in a few weeks but right now from my point of view Agile sucks relative to working in the Department of Defense.
I want agile experts (SCRUM Masters and practitioners) to explain why agile methods are good, where they are effective in the Department of Defense. On my DoD project we took an agile like approach but it wasn’t “AGILE” as defined. When I have spoken to experts they told me that I did it wrong. Recently I have become more involved in understanding agile in the formal sense and so far I don’t like what I am seeing. I have written about this in a few posts starting here and I have asked questions to folks that are either part of an agile team or are working in a related environment and I haven’t heard or seen one success story yet. It seems to me that agile may work well with small teams in a commercial environment but the shoe doesn’t seem to fit all feet. I recently heard of a project that has 8 Scrum masters. I have spoken to people in the Army, the Navy, Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, Joint Staff, and others. One seemingly success story may come from an old colleague at Booz Allen http://joelsef.blogspot.com/but I am not sure that Joel is working in the DoD now or not.