Opinion Agile development and data management do co-exist

Published
  • October 21 2015, 6:36am EDT

A frequent question I get from data management and governance teams is how to stay ahead of or on top of the agile development process app dev pros swear by.  New capabilities are spinning out faster and faster with little adherence to ensuring compliance with data standards and policies. 

Well, if you can't beat them, join them...and, that is what your data management pros are doing, jumping into agile devleopment for data. 

Forrester research of 118 organizations shows that just a little over half of organizations have implemented agile development in some manner shape or form to deliver on data capabilities.  While they lag about one to two years behind app dev's adoption, the results are already beginning to show in terms of getting a better handle on their design and architectural decisions, improved data management collaboration and better alignment of developer skills to tasks at hand. 

But, we have a long way to go.  The first reason to adopt agile development is to speed up the release of data capabilities.  The problem, agile development is adopted to speed up the release of data capabilities.  In the interest of speed, the key value of agile development is quality.  So, while data management is getting it done, they may be sacrificing the value new capabilities are bringing to the business.

Let's take an example. Where agile makes sense to start is where teams can quickly spin up data models and integration points in support of analytics. Unfortunately, this capability delivery may be restricted to a small group of analysts that need access to data.  Score "1" for moving a request off the list, score "0" for scaling insights widely to where action will be taking quickly.

The evidence is that while there is good support for agile development within IT and project teams, the Chief Data Officer (CDO) is still not necessarily on board. They are not yet aware of how agile development is helping their agenda.  The link to data strategy is loose.  Yet, the reality is that if agile is done right, the CDO is the one that ultimately wins.  Think about it - develop to needed/prioritized capabilities, tied to a strategy and business case, and a closed loop process to see and measure results.

Agile development may not be for everyone or everything. However, it's time to take steps and introduce agile strategically if for nothing else than to get strong alignment with business and data strategy.  Your CDO will be on board and your app dev teams will benefit from a broader content library to draw from that speeds up their development.

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