An Agile Balancing of Methodologies

Software Consortium worked with a government client to manage their outsourced development of a new multi-million dollar system. It replaces a 20 year old legacy system, which provided fiscal management of disbursement of over $100 million dollars each year.

Technical Challenge: The client organization needed to adhere to a mandated system development life cycle (SDLC) methodology which assumed a waterfall development. The development organization building the system was staffed with young developers who preferred Agile methods.

Listening closely to a client and delivering on the stated and unstated needs is a hallmark of Software Consortium’s approach.

Benefits of Balancing Methodologies: Software Consortium’s experience with both approaches helped the client to understand what to absolutely include and what could be reduced in deliverables and process.The blend of the two approaches matched the client’s needs perfectly.

Waterfall requirements ensured the project had design documentation, schedules documented, users guides, operations manuals, test plans and test reports. A pure Agile approach would have far less documentation and would have required the client to trust without verifying or seeing details of what was being built. Budget payments were tied to deliveries of both software functionality and documents, necessitating a blend with the traditional approach.

In balancing Agile and waterfall, the number of documents was lower than originally planned, and the quality of those fewer required documents was met with highly favorable reviews. The client’s project and its documents have been used as examples for other projects to follow and the CTO praised the approach and the project. An independent verification and validation of the project was glowing.

Agile iterative development meant the client could see the system emerging and knew that there was progress despite turnover, delays and other substantial project challenges. In a pure waterfall approach, the client would not have seen the system prototypes so frequently and would have had far less confidence in its eventual delivery.

Each week there were calls at both the executive level and working level. This ongoing communication moved the project forward despite difficulties. The project manager and the developer had ongoing communications with and participation of internal and external users of the new system during requirements gathering, and user testing was enormously helpful, both technically and in easing acceptance of the new system.

Software Consortium’s monthly reports with earned schedule and earned value estimates gave early indications when things were off track long before the developers would acknowledge it and helped the client by providing more time for decisions about contingency planning and risk management.

The client felt a pure traditional waterfall would have been more detrimental to meeting the project objectives and was delighted with the working relationship and results we brought that resulted in a winning project.

To learn more about Software Consortium’s broad experience, please contact us.