As more government agencies look to modernize their legacy applications and remove technical debt, many are finding themselves struggling with a move to modern Agile-based methodologies. There is still a large push to “know everything up front” and document all requirements in detail before moving forward with development projects. This is often due to stringent budget cycles and skepticism of losing control of predictable costs. Many stakeholders see Agile as open-ended and likely to cost more if requirements aren’t fully defined upfront. While the commercial landscape has been using Agile methodologies for years, many government agencies are concerned with management challenges when implementing Agile methodologies, such as: 

So, how do we find the right fit for Government Agencies? It all boils down to proper implementation. 

Agile is not a one-size-fits-all methodology and, by nature, allows organizations to tailor an Agile-based methodology to their needs, which could include Scrum, Kanban, Extreme, and others. Some agencies are embracing incremental changes as they make the jump from a legacy Waterfall methodology to an Agile methodology by leveraging a Hybrid Agile model to help effect organizational change.  

By combining Agile methods with non-Agile approaches, agencies can bring the best practices of multiple implementation methodologies to meet the unique challenges of their organization. Here are Edgewater’s approaches for overcoming management challenges within an Agile environment: 

Cross-Functional Team Collaboration: The Solution for Uncovering Effective Agile Requirements Elicitation and Management 

One of the Agile methodologies’ best practices for requirements management is partnering users and developers closely together to allow for rapid requirements elicitation. By placing both sets of stakeholders in one room, the true needs of the solution unfold through significant team collaboration and answering requirements questions in real time. In today’s highly distributed and remote working environment, utilizing Agile techniques within modern Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tools, like Atlassian Jira and Microsoft Azure DevOps, facilitate and manage this collaboration, documentation, and validation of requirements (amongst other features) through a centralized repository and tool based on these best practices. 

Hybrid Agile: The First Step to Transition to Agile from Legacy Waterfall Methodologies 

The goal of a Hybrid Agile approach is to bring the best practices of multiple implementation methodologies to bear on unique challenges of organizations, such as government agencies, that need to implement software within a specified budget and timeframe. The solution must effectively meet stakeholder requirements while managing risk and complying with regulatory mandates and agency governance. This approach provides strong requirements traceability when utilizing a modern ALM toolset, where requirements are managed via a single centralized repository, allowing both stakeholders and implementors to develop a clear understanding and ensure visibility into the progression of the end goal. 

Non-compliance, Regulatory Mandates and Agency Governance: How to Effectively Manage Risk through Agile Methodologies 

Government agency projects often have the added constraint of complying with regulatory mandates, agency governance, fixed budgets, and defined contract timeframes. This can create a perceived risk of non-compliance when utilizing a “pure” Agile approach that may minimize documentation and traceability. However, a Hybrid Agile approach within a modern ALM tool can solve this by increasing team collaboration across dispersed teams, streamlining requirements capture, linking requirement dependencies, and creating an efficient means to track and report on progress. 

Edgewater’s implementation experience and best practices can significantly reduce the risk involved with regulatory compliance and increase project success rates. Contact us now to see how we can transition your team to your custom Hybrid Agile approach. 

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