The Best Way to Implement Agile Development Processes: Your Own Way

Mixing and matching agile development methodologies can be an effective strategy.

This year three researchers from Massey University in New Zealand set out to determine whether agile development truly was better than traditional development. It truly was. But they also discovered that companies that used more than one agile method had more success.

The most effective combination was Extreme Programming (XP) coupled with Scrum. “It appears that successful adoption of an agile approach does not necessarily just mean selecting an individual method,” they wrote. “Rather, it may be better to consider blending multiple complementary methods.” You can read an online version of the paper (in PDF format) by clicking here.

CIOs, analysts and agile experts recommend starting with a blended, customized agile approach. “I find people saying that they’re taking a little of each and creating their own agile process. You don’t have to be religious on these things,” says Jim Johnson, chairman of The Standish Group. “In turn, they were able to bring success rates up and deliver better products and services to stakeholders.”

Scott Spencer, vice president of engineering at First American CoreLogic, has been using agile processes at his company for almost three years. First American CoreLogic is the largest provider of property and real estate data in the United States, and Spencer’s 12 development teams span the globe—on the West and East coasts and in India. His teams all employ Scrum, but he’s done his share of customizing. “I don’t know anybody doing pure Scrum or pure XP,” he says. “It’s hard to do.” For example, in Scrum there’s no concept of a project manager. But Spencer uses a staffer in a project manager-type role (called the Scrum master), which works more effectively with his development teams. “You have to map agile to your existing organizational needs,” Spencer says.

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