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Experts from the SEI and DoD Provide Update on Applying Agile Methodologies to Large-Scale Systems
June 8, 2012—Nearly 500 software professionals worldwide joined experts from the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the United States Department of Defense for “The SEI Agile Research Forum: Meeting the Challenges of Large-Scale Systems.” This virtual event took place May 22, 2012. Presentations from the event are available for on-demand viewing at www.sei.cmu.edu/go/agile-research-forum/.
For more than two decades, the SEI has been a leader in advancing software engineering solutions for the complex, large-scale development required by government and industry environments. In this webinar, the SEI and the DoD shared strategies for applying and scaling Agile technologies to large systems.
Anita Carleton, director of the SEI’s Software Engineering Process Management Program, provided an overview of the ways in which Agile methods can provide customer value sooner and enable organizations to respond more quickly to change. Carleton reported that SEI researchers are focusing on
- providing how-to guidance for using Agile methods
- addressing the scalability of Agile techniques
- appraising Agile programs
- developing pilot Agile programs
- defining metrics to measure the performance and success of Agile programs
Featured speaker Teresa M. Takai, chief information officer for the DoD, discussed how Agile methods have been introduced into the DoD software acquisition and development environment. According to Takai, “Agile is a way for us to be able to, in small parts, mitigate our risks, make the changes that we need after a small, incremental delivery, and then be able to build on that to get to the next stages of our delivery.”
Four SEI researchers discussed aspects of Agile use in large-scale development environments:
- Mary Ann Lapham highlighted the importance of collaboration with end users, as well as among cross-functional teams, in order to bring Agile approaches into acquisition. She noted that successful Agile DoD teams are flexible, experienced, and able to work fluidly between disciplines.
- Ipek Ozkaya discussed the use of strategic, intentional decisions to incur technical debt. The technical debt metaphor describes the tradeoff between taking shortcuts in software development to speed up product delivery and slower—but less risky—software development.
- James Over noted that lack of teamwork can critically impede agility. Over advocated, among other principles, the building of self-managed teams, planning and measuring project process, designing before building, and making quality the top priority.
- Douglas Schmidt discussed the importance of applying Agile methods to crucial common operating platform environments (COPEs) at the DoD. Schmidt argued that Agile approaches that encourage close collaboration between users, developers, testers, and certifiers helps the DoD successfully build integrated, interoperable software systems.
To watch the webinar recordings, download the webinar slides, and get more information about SEI work in implementing Agile methods, please visit www.sei.cmu.edu/go/agile-research-forum/.