As “agile” tech development methodologies gain support at the Pentagon, a new guide from the Defense Innovation Board (DIB), titled “Detecting Agile BS,” aims to arm Federal IT executives with the power to read in between the buzzwords and weed out the imposters.

“Agile is a buzzword of software development, and so all DoD software development projects are, almost by default, now declared to be ‘agile’,” the document notes. “The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to DoD program executives and acquisition professionals on how to detect software projects that are really using agile development versus those that are simply waterfall or spiral development in agile clothing.”

The guide identifies key agile values, including interactions over processes, working software over extensive documentation, collaboration over contract negotiation, and responding to change. The guide also includes common maxims used to describe agile projects, such as “DevSecOps” and “software programs should start small, be iterative, and build on success.”

DIB also offers key flags that a project is not truly agile, such as a lack of communication with users, a focus on requirements over creating a project for users, and stakeholders acting autonomously.

To help executives and teams stay on track, the guide also includes common tools used in agile development, questions to ask the programming team, program management, leadership, and customers to see if development is truly following agile methodology or, as DIB puts it, is “agile-scrum-fall.”

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MeriTalk Staff