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From Here to Agility

From Here to Agility

Study after study indicates that agile methodologies produce better results in software development and project management. So why have so few CIOs adopted them?

Reader ROI

  • How to change the culture of development
  • How agile can lead to IT-business alignment
  • Tips for managing the agile way

Farm Credit Services of America doesn't sound like an organization that courts controversy. The cooperative association makes loans to more than 66,000 farmers and cattle ranchers in the US Midwest so that they can buy cows and pigs and tractors and backhoes. Its main reason for existence — providing $US11 billion of operating capital and real estate financing to those who feed America — is as homey as the images of corn fields, gently rolling green pastures and rugged, resolute farmers that adorn its marketing materials.

It's also based in Omaha, Nebraska, known more for steaks than as an avant-garde laboratory for one of IT's most hotly debated development methodologies: agile programming.

Scepticism is the word most often used when CIOs and analysts are asked why so many CIOs have been cool toward agile software development

But agile is exactly what Farm Credit Services has embraced, whole hog.

The Agile Advantage

Agile programming means different things to different people, but at the core of all agile development methodologies are these principles: Business stakeholders are collocated with small, autonomous development teams; the teams rely less on up-front requirements and documentation than on face-to-face conversations; those conversations provide a continuous dialogue for software design, testing and refocusing. The constant refocusing, its advocates say, leads to more timely and useful business tools.

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