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Agile digital-development-whitepaper 0


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Agile paper

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Agile digital-development-whitepaper 0

  1. 1. Taking the first step to agile digital services 0207 602 6000 @CACI_Cloud Digital Delivered. Now for Tomorrow.
  2. 2. © CACI 2014 2 1. Background & Summary The Government’s Digital by Default agenda has changed the way IT and digital services are created, tested and deployed. While the quality, usability and security will always be vital, agility is everything. And this is exactly what the Government’s Digital by Default agenda requires. Transforming your business by introducing new digital services can seem a daunting process. Not to mention delivering these services based on an ‘agile’ methodology. But do you know what agile is? And why do you need to adopt this approach? Importantly, how do you put together an agile project team and where do you find the right suppliers? The questions no doubt seem endless. But the main problem can often be the misconceptions about agile itself. Only when you get to grips with this, can you start to think about putting a plan in place. But before we can do that, we need to be clear about what agile actually is …
  3. 3. © CACI 2014 3 An agile project is about creating fast iterations of products based on the feedback of real users. 2. So what is ‘agile’? So what is agile and what does a typical agile project entail, for the government agency, the supplier and the users? An agile project is about creating fast iterations of products based on the feedback of real users. It means regularly releasing small pieces of functionality; constant communication between team members, and using equipment that displays progress being made by your team. Government Digital Service Agile is a collection of frameworks that support a team to build software iteratively. Key roles such as product owner and scrum master guide the project by prioritising scope and by maintaining focus on team goals. Key distinctions from other methodologies include; working software over extensive documentation, adapting to change and feedback after iterations (known as sprints), team improvement (via retrospectives) and real-time progress (via burn-down charts and information radiators). The Government Digital Service design manual recommends agile as the methodology to use for building government digital services. This requires dedicated resource from government staff as it recommends that the customer covers roles such as product owner who then need access to subject matter experts as required. If a supplier is part of the project then they are required to become part of a co-located team - collaboration is an essential part of agile, involving daily stand- ups and joint working to develop the product. A user focused approach is also essential to capture the requirements to build early alpha and beta releases. These provide valuable insight and will lead to the best possible experience for the user.
  4. 4. © CACI 2014 4 3. Dispelling the myths Now we’re clear on what ‘agile’ is, what are the main misconceptions? Many advocates represent an agile approach as being the ‘silver bullet’ of delivery when in fact it is simply an alternative approach that offers a different set of pros and cons to other project methodologies. It should be remembered that a methodology is only as good as the practitioners and stakeholders who are delivering within it. During our engagement on projects over the past few years we have come across some of the following popular myths … 3.1. Speed is the true value Agile projects have been proven to achieve higher productivity than other methodologies and, by frequently reporting on progress and delivering smaller objectives along the way, they give the perception of pace. However, the true value associated with agile is more profound. Agile brings the close alignment of business and user needs together through collaboration, combined with a programme’s ability to respond to change. Consequently, agile has a much greater success rate in delivering a solution that the user actually needs and wants to use. Feedback from users and customers continually support this. Even well run traditional Waterfall methodologies can suffer when project goals change and if the scope is committed to much earlier in the delivery process. Agile delivers what the users want. 3.2. Quality of the software suffers Many may believe that agile puts software delivery over and above documentation as the true indicator of progress, which is taken by many to illustrate a lack of control and quality. However, quick delivery of software that actually works, and the avoidance of mountains of documentation with an extensive test phase, does not mean that quality has to suffer. Agile digital delivery undertakes testing in parallel to development, using behavioural specifications aligned to business value. This actually produces fully tested software early and regularly for review and approval. These specifications become automated, leading to higher productivity when new features are added. Test coverage is comprehensive on an agile project if applied correctly. What’s more, since it does not follow as a sequential activity, testing under the agile methodology saves project time.
  5. 5. © CACI 2014 5 3.3. Agile doesn’t support governance All organisations have an approach to project governance covering a wide spectrum, from light touch to incredibly formal. Many see agile as weak in this area due to its less formal approach. Strong or excessive governance doesn’t guarantee a good delivery. Within agile, the product owner and scrum master have essential roles and a number of critical reporting objectives. Sometimes, however, especially within larger organisations, certain governance approaches better suit a project management role, following PRINCE 2 for example. A project management layer is fully compatible with agile as long as the essential roles are able to fully focus on their areas of responsibility. Agile does not negate governance. 3.4. High risk compared to other methodologies All projects need to manage risk and a fluid approach, incorporating feedback and re-aligning objectives as the project progresses, is seen by some as ‘out of control’. In practice, a key advantage of a fluid agile approach is that issues can be identified early in the process. This is because working software is produced from the very first iteration. Every iteration has a set scope to focus on, where risks are monitored on a daily basis so that appropriate actions can be taken immediately and further iterations shaped accordingly. Agile brings the close alignment of business and user needs together through collaboration, combined with a programme’s ability to respond to change.
  6. 6. © CACI 2014 6 A typical government project will include a number of stakeholders responsible for ensuring that their needs are represented and that they receive the appropriate priority. This is understandable as the wrong product will have major time and cost implications for a department. Care needs to be taken that these combined project demands do not have an adverse effect on the delivery because focus on core features is often lost leading to over engineered solutions. The actual users are also affected as the experience is often pushed towards the business drivers rather than balanced with user needs. An agile project is collaborative and empowers the business to play an active part in the design and development of the final product. It supports stakeholder confidence through regular reviews, while allowing the team to focus on goals. It accommodates useful processes such as usability testing due to its responsiveness to change and iterative approach. But it’s no slave to internal reporting process either. It’s a great choice for delivering a digital service designed to accurately fit your business and customer needs. For guidance on how to start building digital services, visit’s Service Manual website. 4. Building an agile digital service - Summary and recommendations
  7. 7. © CACI 2014 7 5. CACI We know how to build world-class user-centred services, quickly and efficiently and have a proven delivery record in helping Government put services online. Our expert agile delivery and DevOps teams specialise in the development, maintenance, support and 24/7 managed services, including cloud services. We’ve done this for Government at BIL2, BIL3 and BIL4 levels for over 12 years. Our approach combines the highest level of expertise, professionalism and innovative technology, with a pace and energy that consistently delivers beyond expectations. Our close-knit teams of multi-skilled professionals waste no time applying commercial sector skills, and timeframes, to even the most complex digital challenges. We work collaboratively to define the best project and management structure to ensure the user, and their needs are at the heart of every process and every stage. From discovery to iterative design, technology choices and continuous delivery, we are 100% aligned to create a user-focused experience that’s rewarding and engaging. Our approach aligns with business value by working closely with our customer and we test solutions with real users to make sure our service is great to use. From a standing start we can, and have, delivered successful digital services in weeks. Digital Delivered. Now for Tomorrow.
  8. 8. © CACI 2014 8 Glossary of terms Term Description Agile A project delivery methodology based on iterative development, adaptive planning and is responsive to changes based on regular reviews with users and stakeholders. Alpha and Beta releases Early versions of software to test with real users. Feedback will be analysed and provide recommendations for future iterations. Burn down charts Graphical representation of work left to do versus time. Information radiators Visual display to show progress. Product owner A defined role in agile, responsible for managing the wish list of user stories or features known as the product backlog. Retrospective Chance for the agile team to discuss the completed sprint and to suggest improvement for future sprints. Scrum master A defined role in agile, responsible for removing any issues in the way of team goals and ensures the agile process is followed correctly. Sprint An agile project is broken down into different stages, called ‘sprints’. These typically last 2-4 weeks. Sprint Review Demonstrate the product to key stakeholders at the end of the sprint. Sometimes referred to as ‘Show & Tell’. Stand-up The team will get together briefly, each team member will report progress, plan for the day and any issues that prevent their targets from being completed. Waterfall A project delivery methodology that generally follows a linear process of completing design first, followed by development and ends with user acceptance testing. For further information and advice, please contact Mark Bailey: 020 7602 6000 @CACI_Cloud