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10 things CIOs need to know about agile development

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

Speaking ahead of the Gartner Application Architecture, Development and Integration Summit in Sydney next month, Nathan Wilson, research director at Gartner, said that executed well, use of agile methods has the capability to transform IT-business relationships and have a major positive impact on IT value delivery. However, the value will be delivered only if the CIO and the entire IT management team are dedicated to the culture change that is necessary for success.

“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,” said Wilson. “Done badly, agile development will create a lot more problems than it solves.”

Gartner has identified 10 guiding principles for agile development. These are summarized below :

No. 1: Agile is not one thing
Agile development methodologies are a set of approaches to software development that share a common philosophy but are sharply distinguished in the details of their implementations. They therefore tend to be adapted to different sorts of problems. Sophisticated organizations with a lot of experience may well use more than one of these approaches, but an organization that is getting started should select one approach and master it before attempting other approaches.

No. 2: Agile is not a “pick’n mix” methodology
Agile methods are highly systematic. Every component element of the methodology is crucial to the success of the methodology. A common mistake is for an organization to embrace some elements of an agile methodology, such as the sprint, but to ignore or play down other elements, such as managing “technical debt.” Such organizations enjoy the kudos that comes from rapid development and release of new code, but they are storing up trouble by failing to address technical debt.

No. 3: Embracing agile is a joint business-IT activity
The full benefits of agile cannot be achieved without engaging with business leaders, management and the user community. If the rest of the business does not have an immediate appetite for working in a new way, careful planning and communication will be needed to bring different communities of managers and users on board.

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