Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University
Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University


Adoption of Agile Methods in the Department of Defense: Opportunities, Risks, Barriers, and Enablers

As part of our mission to provide practical guidance to working software acquisition professionals, the SEI investigates acquisition and development approaches that are coming in to use in the Department of Defense (DoD). Since 2009, our Agile Adoption project has been studying the use of Agile software development approaches, common now in industry, within the DoD and other regulated environments. These are methods characterized by close collaboration between customers and developers, frequent incremental deliveries of software, and evolution of requirements and designs as more is learned about the system and its intended use.

We have published several technical notes that address different topics of interest to acquisition professionals that are contemplating or are currently using Agile methods as part of their acquisition.  We have also developed a model and analysis approach  for understanding the likely adoption risks for a DoD organization involved in adopting Agile methods.  We provide podcasts and blog entries  on smaller topics (for example, the expression of each of the 12 Agile principles in DoD settings).  And we stay close to the practitioner community by presenting at Agile conferences, participating in DoD-centric adoption support groups, and sponsoring and coordinating the SEI Agile Collaboration Group.

The collaboration group comprises government and industry professionals who give us feedback on our work and periodically meet to discuss various topics related to Agile adoption in the DoD and federal organizations. To apply to join our Agile Collaboration Group, please send email to Suzanne Miller ( or Eileen Wrubel (

Technical Notes and Special Reports on Agile Adoption topics:

Update 2016: Considerations for Using Agile in DoD Acquisition

Scaling Agile Methods for Department of Defense Programs

RFP Patterns and Techniques for Successful Agile Contracting

Potential Use of Agile Methods in Selected DoD Acquisitions: Requirements Development and Management

Agile Metrics: Progress Monitoring of Agile Contractors

Parallel Worlds: Agile and Waterfall Differences and Similarities

Considerations for Using Agile in DoD Acquisition

Agile Methods: Selected DoD Management and Acquisition Concerns

A Closer Look at 804: A Summary of Considerations for DoD Program Managers

DoD Agile Adoption: Necessary Considerations, Concerns, and Changes

DoD Information Assurance and Agile:Challenges and Recommendations Gathered Through Interviews with Agile Program Managers and DoD Accreditation Reviewers

Agile Methods and Request for Change (RFC): Observations from DoD Acquisition Programs

Agile Software Teams: How They Engage with Systems Engineering on DoD Acquisition Programs


White Papers on Agile Adoption Topics:


Agile Security - Review of Current Research and Pilot Usage

Patterns of Failure: Systems Thinking in Software Acquisition

Currently, we're developing new ways of applying systems thinking to some of the stickiest and most persistent problems in acquisition.

We call this program Patterns of Failure: Systems Thinking in Software Acquisition. So far, it has yielded nearly a dozen two-page monographs — Acquisition Archetypes — that explore systems-thinking methods to dissect (and solve) some of the most commonly repeated failure scenarios in modern acquisition. Working from a recognized set of systems archetypes, the SEI has extrapolated a related set of software acquisition models, the basis for the set of Acquisition Archetypes presented here.

Risk and Opportunity Management

We're also able to present a broad range of research in risk management, from the traditional (continuous risk management, or CRM) to the leading edge (Mission Success in Complex Environments, or MSCE).

Visit the risk research pages for more details about these programs.