Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Agile Development in a Bureaucratic Arena

Second paper reviewed: Agile Development in a bureaucratic arena – A case study experience
Author: Hilary Berger Cardiff School of Management
Year Published: 2007
Date Reviewed: September 22nd, 2011
After having questions regarding the success of Agile in a hierarchical organization, I tried to look for research in this area. I chanced to look into this particular paper by Hilary Berger. This is a case study of a real project by a UK Regional Government Department that is responsible for managing the administration and expenditure of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
This paper has shown that Agile Development has enabled the users to finally get a released product fast enough. However, it also showed the hindrances programmers faced during this process. Due to the inequalities in the organization, the inherent ‘blame’ system continued during this too. According to Agile, a programming delay should be flexible enough to be deferred to the next release. This was not accepted easily by the levels in management. The blame culture remained prevalent.
One more factor was that higher levels in the bureaucracy were reluctant in relinquishing control of the project. Agile relies on quick decision-making activities at the developer level. The senior levels however found it difficult to give this decision-making power in the hands of the base level programmers.
The paper however concluded that the basic culture must evolve in order to make Agile highly effective. I somehow find this idea utopian as it is very difficult to make and break a corporate culture. I feel that there must be some way in which one can make Agile effective even in a bureaucracy. I believe that if this methodology can bring about a flexibility in the development of software, it should be flexible by itself to adapt to any culture it is used in.