Agile: Tail Wagging the Dog?
I’m deeply concerned that agile software development is taking us giant steps backwards in terms of achieving true business agility. At some companies we visit things are simply out of control. The software development tail wags the business dog.
It’s not just me who thinks so. Here are some comments from recent conversations on social media:
“The business is now at complete mercy of IT Agile to the point where it’s cut out of critical product and service decisions. … IT agile delivery being seen as equivalent to agile/entrepreneurial business which is very far from the case.”
Donna Luehrman, MBA, CBAP
“Agile software development methodology is often antithetical to longer-term business agility and a short-sighted antagonist to the discipline required to achieve it.”
Howard Wiener, President, Codiscent Americas
Agile software development will never get you to agile business because it does not address operational business knowledge (business rules) in a direct or innovative fashion. By coding faster and faster many businesses are simply becoming more and more un-agile. Untold millions of dollars are being sunk into instant legacy. Worse, it may take untold billions of dollars to service that legacy over time. That’s not operational excellence; that’s operational negligence.
If your current approach is based on user stories and use cases and the like ask yourself these questions:
Question 1. Do you address business rules directly in your requirements approach? By ‘directly’ I mean in a systematic, traceable way. Or, do you implicitly assume IT will just somehow get them right?! I think that’s a very bad idea and a very big risk for operational business excellence.
Question 2. What are you doing to ensure governing rules are understandable by business workers and SMEs in the specific way that the business wants them to be interpreted and applied? What are you doing about rules that aren’t automatable? Aren’t those important? And what are you doing to coordinate and disseminate this knowledge to line workers in a systematic, repeatable way?
Is there a place for agile software development? Of course. Just not when it comes to basic operational business knowledge (business rules).
Read more about the Big-5 business challenges: http://www.brcommunity.com/articles.php?id=b904