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HP reaching out to both Agile, non-Agile teams

Agile teams push for software development success against developers still unconvinced that Agile is key to delivering quality, performance and security. Agile will only reach its full potential for success when it becomes the development standard says HP director.

As organizations work to improve their software delivery process, some are finding Agile with a "small a" is a good fit with existing technology investments and methodologies, and another tool in the arsenal that can be used to help businesses respond more quickly to changing needs and markets. Indeed, the opportunity to make midcourse corrections in projects was the top reason cited by respondents (64%) for adopting Agile, followed by greater frequency of releases (60%), according to a recent survey from Forrester Research.

But even though there is a movement toward Agile, "that doesn't mean sequential goes away," said Mark Sarbiewski, senior director of products and solutions marketing, HP Software & Solutions, Hewlett Packard. The bigger question, he said, is when you deliver software, "does it work? Does it perform well? Does it scale? Is it secure?" And, he added, while developers have been leading the charge to a more Agile style of development, "if the rest of the stakeholders don't figure out how to work in that mode, then the overall success will be limited."

To address the overall needs of the software delivery cycle, which increasingly includes Agile projects, HP rolled out the Agile Accelerator about six months ago, and last week added a built-in resource planning module to the Accelerator. The resource planning module allows development teams to estimate time and allocate resources, The HP Agile Accelerator sits on top of HP Quality Center, so in addition to the integration there, data can also be rolled up to HP's Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) solution.

For Timothy Perry, chief technology officer, Retirement and Protection, at Genworth Financial, this means "developers can now be part of puzzle." His group has been using HP Quality Center and the HP PPM product, but developers had been using a lot of Eclipse-based tools and other "favorites."

The more mature development teams have been using Quality Center for requirements management, Perry said, but it didn't meet the developers' needs directly. The only place in Quality Center that felt like a list of work for the developer was in the defect center, he explained, "which just didn't make sense because not everything we're doing is defects." Now, the HP Agile Accelerator offers features developers can use for their work, whether they're doing Agile projects or more traditional projects, he said.

Currently, Perry said about 15% to 20% of projects in his group are Agile and follow Scrum principles, and that other more traditional waterfall projects "are morphing into smaller deliverables."

As is true for many organizations, "Our leaders don't care if it's Agile, waterfall, you name it," Perry said. "They want speed of delivery and high quality."

According to Forrester, hybrid models are the reality, with 35% of organizations mixing Agile with other methods. And 47% of respondent said that a methodology is a helpful guide, but they diverge from it to deliver on time.

And adopting some, but not necessarily all, Agile concepts has been the approach of organizations Forrester surveyed. The Agile concept most frequently implemented, according to the survey results, was short iterations (79%), followed by constant feedback (77%) and daily Scrum meetings (71%). Lowest on the adoption list was system metaphor (15%), test-driven development (42%) and refactoring (50%).

Before, Perry said, with large multi-month projects, there was "no good gauge on how a project was doing, and that's how you ended up with overruns because you're surprised at the end of the process." Even with using just some Agile concepts, "you get bad news earlier and can react."

So when Perry's group looked at HP Agile Accelerator, he said he didn't necessarily focus on whether it could help with Agile projects, but "could it do something for all of our projects" The answer, he said, was yes—non-Agile projects could benefit as well. He said they did look at some open source tools, but liked the idea the organization could leverage the existing investment in Quality Center.

With the help of HP Professional Services, Perry said the made some modifications to the Accelerator to meet their needs. For example, he said, they modified the product so that requirements are outside the Agile framework, modified the workflow so that defects are not passed to the developer immediately but can first be investigated by the business analysts and QA, and finally, he said, they made a copy of Accelerator and relabeled things. "You can use [Accelerator] for non-Agile projects, but now the labels make sense to them, say [one label is] milestone vs. sprint. You can leverage the capability [of Accelerator] and not confuse people and fit a non-Agile project. That's a big deal for us."

Indeed, there will be certain types of projects where Agile is the best fit, said Dave West, senior analyst at Forrester Research, "where you need a level of flexibility. But there isn't just one 'Agile.' It's really the ability to respond to change in the most effective way considering the restraints of the environment you're in."

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