It’s interesting to see how governments are turning to Agile more and more these days. Obama told us to do Agile development, the UK manages your pensions in an Agile-fashion, and how the Veteran’s Affairs uses Agile. But what about the traps and pitfalls of using Agile?
“The government should be wary of agile development, the much-lauded IT development method, for fear of it resulting in a “never-ending change programme.” – Speaker at the Parliament UK
The Committee of Good Governance: The Effective Use of IT, talked at length about Agile this past month and Janet Grossman, chairwoman of the public sector council and director of strategy and execution at CSC, explained that the “constant change seen during agile development programmes means projects are never finished.”
Agile development was being discussed as an alternative to the widely criticised mammoth government IT deals of the past decade. These Goliath IT deals were pilloried as much for their static inability to respond to needs as for their high costs and tendency to overrun.
So are technology vendors and providers a cartel?
Martin Rice, chief executive of Agile software development at service provider Erudine, who was also speaking at the committee, said some very successful private companies use constant change programmes, citing Facebook an example.
Rice added that although he realised “cartel” was a dangerous word, he believed that the current situation was close to that.
“These suppliers talk to each other and know that if they don’t get one deal, another will come up,” he said.
In the end, it sounds like there needs to be better oversight and program managers who can monitor IT programs in the government. Education would be one of the first things I would think about: Educating program managers on what Agile really is and create better oversight of Agile contracts.
Sounds to me like another opportunity right there… A vendor to provide Agile project oversight for the government.