Livestock Improvement Goes Agile


Identifying the Pain Points
Since its formation in 2007, farm systems had used traditional waterfall development methods. Although we always managed to deliver to the customer, projects were generally completed over time and over budget. This was not working for our customers or for our staff. The traditional waterfall methods were proving too cumbersome for a fast-moving, customer-driven product range.

In order to be responsive to customers’ needs, we needed to do the following:

  • Provide product managers with early visibility of what was being developed.
  • Engage and work with customers.
  • Plan to re-plan by providing customers with the ability to change scope during the development phase without major productivity loss or increased cost.
  • Be more responsive to changes in the market or economy.

Subsequent to the release of the latest version of the LIC’s Animal Management System (MINDA) product, the team held a post-implementation review to identify challenges and learning opportunities. We had good metrics and were able to identify what had happened through the development process. By reviewing the requirements work done in the previous twelve months and comparing the resultant product, we identified that 40 percent of the requirements work was wasted. The delivered product had 50 percent of the initial requirements implemented, along with many new features that were not initially planned for.

Table 1 shows the time spent on items that were subsequently de-scoped. Table 2 shows the time that was spent on rework with respect to analysis, testing, and development. Approximately one quarter of the total project budget could have been saved.




Dollars $

Business Analysis








Technical writin




Table 1




Dollars $

Development rework




Analysis (document updates)




Test script updates




Table 2

In order to address these concerns, we held a two-day facilitated workshop in June 2009 with participants from farm systems, IT, and the project management office. An important part of the workshop was for the team to identify pain points in the current development methodology and how they impacted the successful delivery of software projects.

The following identified pain points covered the whole gamut of communication and waste, which have become synonymous with software development projects:

  • Lack of role clarity
  • Unclear and changing business needs
  • Cumbersome change-management processes
  • Impact of multitasking
  • Poor estimating, resulting in unrealistic workloads
  • Lack of visibility of project status

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