GAO Findings Reveal; Thar’s Agile Gold In Them Thar Hills!

Where some people see obstacles I see opportunity.

Fellow improver Joe Valone shared a link to the GAO’s recent findings on Agile software development; Effective Practices and Federal Challenges in Applying Agile Methods. They found 32 practices effective in applying Agile to IT projects.

What interested me most weren’t the 33 practices they found effective (kind of old news for most of us), it was the 14 challenges enumerated. Included are:

  • problems with procurement practices
  • difficulty in staff committing to more frequent input
  • agencies inability to commit staff
  • problems with compliance reviews
  • Federal reporting practices
  • lack of clarity in Agile guidance
  • Mistmatch with traditional status tracking

All of this points up the fact that reducing the impedance mismatch and drag factors that limit the agility of organizations and teams remains both a hurdle and a huge opportunity for those in the agile consulting space.

To put it another way, “Thar’s gold in them thar hills!!”

Granted, gold difficult to mine but gold nonetheless.  How much gold?  Consider this quote from the report:

“Federal agencies depend on IT to support their missions and spent at least $76 billion on IT in fiscal year 2011. However, long-standing congressional interest has contributed to the identification of numerous examples of lengthy IT projects that incurred cost overruns and schedule delays while contributing little to mission-related outcomes.”

Focusing on Agile practices can certainly produce gains but Agile adoptions that focus on team level practices alone will remain forever limited in their impact and success.

Changing management level practices and culture must be part of the focus when adopting Agile.  Certainly that change presents more difficulties than implementing a bunch of Scrum practices, but the change also offers some of the biggest opportunities for sustainable gains.

In focusing on team practices alone, we’re picking up the gold pieces lying around but the biggest veins – the ones that produce fortunes remain beneath the surface.

1 thought on “GAO Findings Reveal; Thar’s Agile Gold In Them Thar Hills!

  1. Nice write up Jay! Thanks for the credit. As agile-ists we already knew this (that it works), but having empirical evidence never hurts.


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