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The challenges of Agile transition: Stop and regroup

The other day I attended Rally Software’s Agile Cafe in Boulder, giving me the opportunity to hear more stories of “real world” Agile. I had just attended the Boulder Agile Software Meetup group the week before and heard about some of the obstacles to Agile acceptance. Two of the speakers at the Agile Cafe were real world success stories, but both of them did experience obstacles with their transitions.

Bill Holst, President & Principal Consulting Software Engineer at Prescient Software, talked about two projects done for Colorado Springs Utilities, one done with waterfall and one with Agile. Though the Agile project was successful, it started with a lot of problems. A key factor in its success was that the team stopped halfway through and the customer group, in this case field engineers, reworked the requirements.

The second presenter was Adam Woods, Director of Product Development at StoneRiver. Woods described a phased transition to Agile for a major development effort. One of the biggest obstacles encountered was the lack of buy-in and understanding of Agile principles from executives, project leaders and delivery teams. Woods, too, attributes a key to the eventual success to taking the time to stop and regroup when necessary. As the team did this, they inspected and adapted, going back to basic principles. Recognizing the importance of engagement from the product owners, they changed their model, and eventually gained the acceptance needed from all stakeholders.

Jean Tabaka, author of Collaboration Explained, followed up with a keynote, describing important factors for success in Agile transition. I had a chance to catch up with Tabaka after the presentation for a quick summary.

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