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10 Things CIOs Need to Know About Agile Development

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10 Things CIOs Need to Know About Agile Development

A summary of Gartner's list of what CIOs should know about agile development, including the necessary culture change and technical debt.

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Analyst firm Gartner has released a list of ten things that CIOs need to know on the topic.

“CIOs are under pressure to support fast-evolving digital business scenarios, but are finding traditional project and development methods unsuitable,” said Gartner research director Nathan Wilson. “Enterprises are increasingly turning to agile development to speed up projects and illustrate their value.”

When executed well, the use of agile methods has the capability to transform IT-business relationships, Wilson stressed. This will certainly have a positive impact on IT value delivery, he said.

But this success does not come lightly, Wilson said It requires a cultural mind shift for the CIO and the entire IT organization.

“Done well, agile development can be an integral part of the portfolio of methods that the CIO uses to deal with increasing business demand for innovation,” Wilson said. “Done badly, agile development will create a lot more problems than it solves.”

As far as the top guiding principles for IT leaders, Gartner identified the following:

  1. Agile is not one thing, and in fact, agile development methodologies are a set of approaches to software development. A sophisticated organization may use a few approaches, but an organization getting started should focus on one.
  2. Agile is not a ‘pick’n mix’ methodology, and agile methods are highly systematic. Each component of the methodology is critical to eventual success.
  3. Agile success requires an IT-business approach, since the full benefits can’t be realized without engaging everyone affected, from business leaders, to IT management, to users.
  4. Walk before you run is the best approach to agile development, to enable the organization to go through a normal learning curve in what is a complex process.
  5. Agile success means continuous learning for the organization, as dedicated employees look to constantly improve quality and cost-effectiveness.
  6. Agile development requires teams and teams of teams, involving both developers and quality assurance professionals. Such teams are often approximately “seven, plus or minus two” people.
  7. Documenting, managing and eliminating technical debt is a core concept of agile development, meaning the difference between the state of a piece of software today and the state that it needs to be in.
  8. Third-party relationships with agile development require special care and attention, as the experiences of many organizations that have outsourced the process has shown.
  9. Agile development impacts extend beyond software development teams, since business users are a key part of the project and its success.
  10. Agile development should not be your only development methodology, since it is a good approach for some development needs but not for others.

DevOps and Continuous Delivery are often described as the next level of Agile. Check out this great InfoGraphic on the 8 most critical DevOps practices.

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