What Proposal Professionals Must Understand about Agile?

  |  February 14, 2019

As we cross the frontier into the fourth industrial revolution, the Agile paradigm is leading the way in software development.

What Proposal Personnel Must Understand about Agile

Fortunately, we only need to have a descriptive and not a technical understanding of Agile. This article is written to provide a 5-minute overview.

Agile is both (1) a non-traditional, flexible way to create software products and (2) a new way to manage that process. Agile adoption has advanced rapidly because of its ability to create more reliable software faster:

Agile development is iterative and incremental. This means cross-functional teams pursue smaller projects phased in frequent “sprints” to create product rapidly, test it with customers, capture feedback, then start the cycle again.

Two common buzz words in Agile are “sprint,” which is a block of work lasting one to four – often two — weeks. The sprint is a unit within a “scrum,” which is the framework for managing product development. (“Scrum” is a maneuver in the game of Rugby, where two teams lock shoulders facing each other to try to get the ball which is on the ground in the middle without getting their face kicked.)

A third buzz word is “continuous delivery.” Done right, continuous delivery of software is the holy grail of software development practice, customer retention, and is the reason why DevOps is such a hot concept today.

Strengths of the Agile Paradigm

A survey of the agile community highlighted reasons for the popularity of the new method in Government: Respondents said their Agile-inspired projects enjoyed a 10 point (58 vs. 48%) improved success rate over the “traditional” project management current best practices. Additionally, one Government study found that Agile speeded up projects by 21 days on the average.

Agile in Government

In order to help those who lack mature knowledge, the Agile Government Leadership (AGL) organization launched the “Agile Government Handbook.” This acts as a simple guide for adopting those short, bite-size goals that agile practices preach.

One term the handbook highlights is Minimum Viable Product or MVP, a popular idea in Silicon Valley. A section about key questions to ask when executing agile projects would always include, “How long did it take to ship the MVP? If it has not shipped yet, when will it?”