Agile Software Development in the Government

Convener: Charlene Cuenca

List of Participants: Charlene Cuenca, Becky Redeker, Frank Balogh, Don Macintyre, Scott Cothrell, John Duque, John Gouveia, David Kane, Tom Mellor

Topics included:

  • Project setup and composition
  • Each person discussed their company and project role
  • Team structures
  • The size, composition, and processes within the teams
  • Product owner issues
    • There were several issues revealed about product owners not being in the ideal role. They were product owner proxies or project managers but not really representative of the end user or customer.
  • Non Ideal Scrum setups
    • There was a discussion about a team that did not have release planning, a team that did not have daily stand ups, a team that had moving release dates
  • Sprint lengths
    • Sprint lengths varied from 2 weeks to 3 weeks to 4 weeks to one month
  • Certification and Accreditation issues
    • The group discussed the issues with the certification and accreditation process within the government and how it affects the development cycle. This typically resides out of the release cycle and can affect the next sprint cycle capacity.

Acquisition process
The acquisition process is known to be a cause of problems in agile development. There is an ongoing effort within the government to make the acquisition process more agile. As of today the process change has slowed but has the backing of several key members in the agile community. Discussions and recommendations: This was a collaborative round table discussion focusing on the issues within Agile projects in the government space. It was noted that different branches of the military could have different issues implementing agile processes due to the core differences in the military branches themselves. A participant stated that the Marines in general seem to be more agile – they are tasked with a problem and work as a team to resolve it out in the field. Those higher in the Marine structure will let the team form and solve the issue. In other branches, there may not be that level of cooperation. The traditional command and control structure within the government seems to hamper the agile development effort. The grassroots effort going on within the DoD seems to stall when reaching the middle management level . The acquisition process was also discussed as a reason for the slow transition to Agile processes.

Several resources were shared that were related to Agile within the Government. One was the adapt group. Also a video link was shared featuring Teri Takai.

Overall the session was useful and it was interesting to discuss the various ways that projects are implemented in various branches of the government.

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