Transition to Agile Development Methodology
A product release for one of Dovel’s federal government customers could take up to six months to develop and deploy. The interval was long enough that customer requirements sometimes changed before deployment could even take place. The customer was frustrated at having to wait so long for features that it wanted to use immediately. An Agile methodology would clearly resolve the problem at hand but meant a sharp methodological and cultural change for the customer. The Agile methodology also needed to be compatible with federal government customer’s methodology, which was based on waterfall processes, and meet the demand for transparency, accountability, and traceability emphasized by the government to create comprehensive lifecycle documentation as a IT system requirement and best practice.
Dovel addressed this dilemma by initiating a gradual transition to Agile methodology. This began with adapting Agile terminology to the waterfall setting. Changing the language was relatively simple but Dovel also needed to show that both the new Agile practices and documentation was in compliance with the FDA’s EPLC 2.0 and also met all the required milestones leading to a release. Dovel mapped all new deliverables to those in the customer’s official software development lifecycle and showed how all traditional milestone goals were still being met by the new process. Finally, the team had to show that the new process still delivered functionality as good as – or better than – waterfall had.
After implementing Agile, a release could be deployed to production in less than 45 days. This slashed the time to market by four months for five federal user communities. Dovel’s approach also supported a more flexible delivery of functionality and provided lifecycle documentation. This helped to realize critical time saving benefits as well as higher quality results. As a result of the method’s success, the federal customer adopted Dovel’s Agile development methodology as the basis for its own first-ever official Agile software delivery model. Dovel’s Agile process is currently used by many government centers and offices and is often sought after to address Information Technology changes. Dovel has continued to refine its own Agile methodology and uses it as the standard delivery model for many of its government contracts.