September 2019

The Importance of Practice-based Development for Sustaining Agile Change

Most software development teams rarely lack access to defined techniques or processes, but information can

quickly build to become unwieldy, providing teams with too much information, and often with far too much “friction”

and “noise” – with people using different terminology for similar ideas, or indeed the same terminology for different

ideas, causing unnecessary debate and confusion and distracting everyone from the primary goal of adding value

to the software product.

Often the most valuable nuggets of professional practice become buried and lost inside other larger descriptions

of apparently highly prescriptive processes, which considered as a whole are heavy-weight, impractical for many

purposes, and become unpopular and discredited over time.

While it is critical that local empowerment of teams are able to adopt the practices that will work best for their team,

at the organisational level there are many drivers and benefits that require commonality of language and approach.

These include effective communication with stakeholders, transparency of project status and progress for the purpose

of governance, as well as project continuity and sustained improvement — despite change-overs in suppliers,

contractors and employees over time.

Many organisations struggle with recognizing and implementing cohesive delivery cultures and approaches across

many types of projects that have their own internal challenges and structures.

Effective work practices can be lost to faddism. Dr. Ivar Jacobson, chairman of Ivar Jacobson International and a

father of modern business engineering, is often quoted as saying that software development is as trendy as the

fashion industry.

“Instead of a true engineering discipline for software, what we see today is a tendency to adopt

new ideas based on popular fashion rather than appropriateness; a lack of a sound, widely accepted

theoretical basis; a huge number of methods, whose differences are little understood; a

lack of credible experimental evaluation and validation; and a split between industry practice and

academic research.” Real Software Engineering by Ivar Jacobson and Ed Seidewitz

There must be a better way

What if we had some common ground — a common terminology that describes the things that are fundamentally

true and critically important for all software development? A way to share and combine good ideas and practices

from many sources within this shared common framework? An improved way would drive a consistent approach and

delivery across an organisation and enable flexibility of use across teams.

The above content was taken from Part 2 of Ivar Jacobson International's Creating Sustainable Change epub series. To read the full piece, register for the series here.

Creating Sustainable Agile Change

Creating Sustainable Agile ChangeIn 2011, Marc Andreesson, founder of Netscape and investor in many Silicon Valley start-ups penned an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Software is Eating the World”, which outlined how all companies now rely on software to drive their business. Whether software is at the core of a business such as Google, or an integral part of an organisation’s go-to-market strategy such as Walmart or critical for a government agency to communicate to millions of citizens, software is changing the world. Organisations are increasingly reliant on software to differentiate from their competitors, respond to regulatory or legislative requirements, improve legacy systems, get to market faster, deliver new and innovative services or products to customers, and the list goes on.

Software has now become core to any business and many change initiatives are driven out of the need to deliver better, faster, cheaper solutions. Those organisations that can introduce change, adopt it and sustain it will have competitive advantage while those unable to embrace change will fall behind.

In this fast-paced, responsive world, software development teams are adopting agile techniques to speed up development times and reduce risks, while simultaneously becoming more responsive to the needs of their customers. Many organisations have kick-started their agile journey and many have successfully introduced agile on a team basis; however, the real challenge is ensuring that agile can scale and is sustainable as corporate plans and personnel evolve over time.  Different people will have varying views and ideas of applying and scaling agile and often good corporate practices become lost as a change initiative matures.  Helping organizations embed, sustain and scale agile ways of working is at the heart of Ivar Jacobson International’s (IJI) expertise, skillset and intellectual property.

We have produced a multi-part epub series to share with readers our approach to creating sustainable change. You can register for the series here.