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Just got a heads up from Will Hayes who took one of our regular Product Owner training courses a few weeks ago. He works at the Software Engineering Institute at CMU and is the lead author of a technical note that gives guidance to acquisition professionals at the Department of Defense on how they need to change their practices to take advantage of Scrum. The note is titled: Agile Metrics- Progress Monitoring of Agile Contractors:

As the prevalence of suppliers using Agile methods grows, these professionals supporting the acquisition and maintenance of software-reliant systems are witnessing large portions of the industry moving away from so-called “traditional waterfall” life cycle processes. The existing infrastructure supporting the work of acquisition professionals has been shaped by the experience of the industry—which up until recently has tended to follow a waterfall process. The industry is finding that the methods geared toward legacy life cycle processes need to be realigned with new ways of doing business.

There is some pretty interesting stuff in the paper, one of the things that leaped out at me was this:

If the Project Management Office (PMO) is doing a request for proposal (RFP), no matter which phase, ensure that the RFP contains language that allows the use of Agile. In many instances, the traditional RFP language makes it difficult, if not impossible, to propose an Agile based solution. (emph. added)

I highlighted that line because it is critical that government acquisitions professionals change some of the ways they think about RFPs. Often,  the very contract language requires waterfall. This despite other DoD rules that require Agile methods. If you are spending taxpayer dollars, you need to encourage Scrum, otherwise you're just requiring projects to cost more, take longer, and not do what you actually want them to do.

-- JJ Sutherland

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