Agile Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Agile Adoption and Implementation

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Agile Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Agile Adoption and Implementation

Agile Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Agile Adoption and Implementation - dated September 2020

This document is labeled an Exposure Draft. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is seeking input and feedback on the document until September 27, 2021.

The GAO is responsible for, among other things, assisting Congress in its oversight of the executive branch, including assessing federal agencies' management of information technology (IT) systems. In prior audits, GAO has reported that federal agencies faced challenges in developing, implementing, and maintaining their IT investments. All too frequently, agency IT programs have incurred cost overruns and schedule slippages while contributing little to mission-related outcomes.

The 2014 Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA, was enacted to improve agencies' acquisitions of IT and enable Congress to monitor agencies' progress and hold them accountable for reducing duplication and achieving cost savings. Among its specific provisions is a requirement for Chief Information Officers (CIOs) at covered agencies to certify that certain IT investments are adequately implementing incremental development as defined in the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) capital planning guidance. OMB's implementing guidance requires agencies to use incremental development approaches that would deliver enhanced or new functionality to users at least every six months.

One framework for incremental development is Agile software development, which has been adopted by many federal agencies. It emphasizes early and continuous software delivery and is defined by values and principles that can be realized through a set of common practices seen in specific Agile frameworks such as DevOps, eXtreme Programming, Lean, Kanban, Scrum, and others.

This guide focuses on best practices surrounding Agile adoption, execution, and controls. Chapter 3 groups commonly-recognized best practices for Agile adoption into the areas of team dynamics and activities, program operations, and organization environment. Chapter 4 provides an overview of high-level program management concepts surrounding Agile execution and control best practices, such as requirements development and management, acquisition strategies, and program monitoring and control. Agile execution best practices related to requirements development and management and the federal contracting process are discussed in more detail in Chapters 5 and 6. Program control and monitoring best practices for cost estimating, scheduling, and earned value management are discussed in Chapter 7. Best practices for metrics that can be used during the adoption, execution, and monitoring and control periods of the program are discussed in Chapter 8.

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