Implementing the Power of Agile in IT

Sudhir Tiwari, MD, Thoughtworks, shares how Agile can help IT partner with business better.

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The business of software has always been about deploying technologies to serve businesses. But over time the speed at which business requirements have changed has increased dramatically, leaving many business executives frustrated with IT inability to deliver solutions fast enough. According to the Global Status Report on the Governance of Enterprise IT (2011), 90 percent of IT respondents believe IT supports their business’ strategy--but only 72 percent of business executives think the same.

Part of the problem is due to the way software is built: Using a process heavy, bureaucratic approach that delivers entire solutions later than business expects. Many believe that the speed business is looking for can be achieved by using Agile software development practices. In this interview, Sudhir Tiwari, MD, ThoughtWorks, India which has been pioneering Agile since 2001 and says it invented Distributed Agile, shares how Agile can help IT partner business needs.

What’s the problem with enterprise software solutions today? Why are so many business executives unhappy with IT systems?
We need to build systems which are adaptive to change. It is interesting to observe how quickly a company actually responds to change. There’s so much bureaucracy in IT, it sometimes prevents a business from getting effective results. According to a Gartner report, a lot of companies are losing their trust in IT. Telecom, for example, is a highly competitive market and the question is: Can IT build systems to accommodate new technologies like 3G and 4G fast enough?

Enterprises need to take more risks and become more courageous. Most enterprises drive on packaged software. To be competitive on a global stage, a reliance on IT implementations must increase, instead of just using packaged software.

How will Agile methods help a CIO’s cause?
Most tools in the market have been tuned to the traditional waterfall method of software development. The Agile fundamental is very different. From the beginning of the project, you are very flexible on the plan and involve the customer from the start.

I think software is a very social activity. And Agile involves a lot of interaction among the team and the customer during the development phase of a product. I also think that the decision of releasing software should be with business, not IT. We live in an age where Flickr releases 40 patches a week into production. The overall Agile suite is built to cater to teams which are looking at agility and going into production very rapidly.

Which industry verticals do you think you will benefit the most from Agile?
We profess that our domain is technology; hence we don’t want to chase a particular vertical. Software as a business can make a substantial difference in the BFSI segment, apart from the IT/ITes sector.

Where do you see Agile going in India?
The market for Agile is growing extremely quickly. The demand for the implementation of software products is very high. And ThoughtWorks would like to spread the message that Agile adoption doesn’t just change your delivery process, hiring and review practices but also the mind set of the enterprise.