Making Agile Mainstream–Crossing the Chasm

For agile adoption to continue, we need to address development issues that large organizations deal with, including large-scale development projects, geographically distributed development, and compliance. Let's take a look at what promising work is happening in each of these areas.

Agile adoption has begun to grow in industries such as insurance, telecom and financial services; but for agile development to become mainstream, it needs backing by major industry players, a unified rather than scattered agile landscape, and evolutionary rather than revolutionary agile transformations.

We need improved support for large-scale agile transformations, including knowledge transfer on a large scale, necessary HR policies, and scalable agile tooling architectures. Finally, we need to address development issues that large organizations deal with, including large-scale development projects, geographically distributed development, and compliance. Let's take a look at what promising work is happening in each of these areas.

Mainstream Companies Are Looking For Safe Bets
In Crossing the Chasm,  [1] Geoffrey Moore points out that for a product to make the transition from “bleeding edge” early-adopter technology to wider marketplace acceptance, it needs to appeal to a growing majority of consumers. Mainstream organizations will go for what they deem are safe bets rather than venture into unknown territories. They will go with the market leader rather than hottest technology and seek continuous improvement rather than radical paradigm shifts.

Consider how Moore's observations relate to making agile development mainstream:

Backing by major industry players
A cottage industry of players have entered the agile market, including services companies such as Object Mentor, Mountain Goat Software, Net Objectives, Quadrus, and Industrial Logic, and product companies such as Rally Software Development and VersionOne. Most of these companies have small staffs of less than one hundred people. Until now, the presence of major services and product companies has been lacking. This is changing as we speak.

For example, the world's largest system integrators have recently put more focus on agile development. IBM Global Business Services just launched an Accelerated Solution Delivery Practice focusing on agile development and agile transformations, Capgemini is investing in an accelerated delivery platform for agile development, and even a few Indian system integrators, such as Cognizant and ITC Infotech India, are moving towards agile development.

Major vendors are investing in agile tools and processes. IBM has recently previewed Jazz, a next generation technology platform for, among other things, agile and collaborative development. Microsoft recently launched MSF for Agile, an agile process, and IBM, Telelogic, Capgemini, and 15 other large and small companies are co-developing the Eclipse Process Framework (EPF), [2] an open source process initiative focusing on agile processes.

Unifying a scattered agile process landscape
As agile development is growing in popularity so is the number of agile processes. These include XP, Scrum, OpenUP, AUP, DSDM, Lean Software Development, Adaptive Software Development, Rational Unified Process (RUP), MSF, FDD, Crystal Clear, EssUP, and Agile Modeling.

Many of these processes cover only certain aspects of the software development lifecycle. As an example, Scrum only covers project and requirements management aspects and needs to be integrated with other processes such as XP and Agile Modeling to address the full lifecycle. Integrating different processes is difficult and time consuming, and mainstream companies do not want to take on that investment.
The EPF project, however, addresses the process integration issue. EPF is an open source initiative providing an authoring, configuring, and deployment platform for software best practices. The project was launched earlier this year, and many leading agile processes are, or will soon be, available within EPF, including OpenUP, XP, Scrum, DSDM, and Agile Modeling.

Within EPF, we hope to leverage all of these agile methods to eventually develop reusable agile process components, which can be combined to produce different agile processes, such as OpenUP, XP, and Scrum, or to produce your own agile process. Organizations should be able to add or


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