GAO: 32 tips for agile development

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The Government Accountability Office identified 32 practices and approaches it believes to be effective for applying agile software development methods to information technology projects.

The practices align with five key software development project management activities: strategic planning, organizational commitment and collaboration, preparation, execution and evaluation

GAO looked at five federal agencies and found 10 practices that were successfully used across all of those agencies:

  • Start with Agile guidance and an Agile adoption strategy.
  • Enhance migration to Agile concepts using Agile terms, such as user stories (used to convey requirements), and Agile examples, such as demonstrating how to write a user story.
  • Continuously improve Agile adoption at both the project level and organization level.
  • Seek to identify and address impediments at the organization and project levels.
  • Obtain stakeholder/customer feedback frequently.
  • Empower small, cross-functional teams.
  • Include requirements related to security and progress monitoring in your queue of unfinished work (the backlog).
  • Gain trust by demonstrating value at the end of each iteration.
  • Track progress using tools and metrics.
  • Track progress daily and visibly.

In the report, GAO recommended that the federal CIO Council, working with its chair, the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy director for management, include practices such as those discussed in this report in the Council’s ongoing effort to promote modular development.

After reviewing a draft of this report, OMB commented that the recommendation was better addressed to the council than to its chair. GAO revised the recommendation to address it to the council working with its chair.

SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT Effective Practices and Federal Challenges in Applying Agile Methods

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Agencies, Congress, Government Accountability Office (GAO), Government IT News, Management & Budget, Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
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