Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Defense AT&L and Agile

The cover article in the January-Febuary 2013 (free online) issue of Defense AT&L is about agile in the DoD as a consequence of the 2010 U.S. Defense authorization mandating agile.

The article's theme is "terra incognita": "... new territory, full of unfamiliar processes, lacking clear alignment to existing expectations..."

Unfortunately, this article is long on issues and short on actionable practices for the contracting officer, acquisition officials, and contractors.

This figure more or less captures the essence of the author's points, which is a relocation of requirements in the traditional alignment. The article is somewhat based on Leffingwell's well received book: Scaling Software Agilility.

Striking contrast
What really caught my attention was another article in the same issue  (Good contacts start with good requirements by Eesley) about fixing requirements early and firmly, the very thing eschewed in the cover article.  Of course, to be fair, all DoD programs are not software intensive, and so all DoD programs can't take full advantage of agile methods.

Nevertheless, a search of 'Good contracts' on the word 'agile' returned no hits; thus this article didn't seem to acknowledge the requirements paradox, which in part drives agile:

  • We always want requirements to be stable to drive design and development; but user requirements are never stable enough to drive design and development.
And, 'Good contracts' didn't acknowledge the move from 'shall' and 'will' to the conversational mode of agile, where the capture mechanism for the conversation is a test script and not a requirements statement per se.

At some point, the dots will connect better than they do, but there's a long way to go. For more on my ideas, see: