CIO: Be less agile
There is some talk in the market about the agile approach to system development. Agile focuses on business engineering rather than system engineering and is user rather than technologist focused. All good stuff.
The fact that agile is also used to describe businesses has helped make the approach more relevant. The talk in the market is that the agile approach has come of age, which would be about right if it was human given that it has been around in a semi formalised / pubescent manner for just over twenty years.
My concern is that agile is seen as the cure to all system development evils. Whilst it certainly addresses many important issues, including speed of development and meeting the user’s requirements, it has some notable weaknesses. Specifically:
- The emphasis on ignoring system engineering encourages the development of unsecure and unscalable systems
- It is premised on the fact that the customer (user) is always right. This of course is not always the case. Most users have no interest in how the system needs to integrate with the middle and back office systems
- Agile projects never ‘get closure’. Whilst this is not necessarily a bad thing, it makes it difficult for the IT function to conclude on a project and it makes for a contractual nightmare from a vendor’s perspective
- The short fuse delivery schedule of agile projects is not dissimilar to doing your ‘finals’ every month. Agile projects are an efficient way to burn out technologists.
- Complex high-risk projects do not lend themselves to short fuse delivery. Nor do they work well when the testing has been rushed.
I don’t want to spoil the party, but we need to be aware that the agile approach has its limitations.
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