Home News Latest News Atlanta’s Leading CIOs’ use of Agile Development Methodologies
Atlanta’s Leading CIOs’ use of Agile Development Methodologies E-mail
Written by John Kosar & Brant Pirkle   

2013 CIO Panel

The Atlanta AITP Chapter’s 7th Annual CIO roundtable, held this September, delivered a wealth of insight to members and guests into the issues currently facing IT leaders.  Last month’s recap article covered key points made by our panelists concerning their organizations’ strategic direction and business alignment.  This installment will relate the degree to which each of our CIO panelists have embraced agile software development methodologies.  

Agile is an iterative process that promotes close collaboration between development teams and business. The method often uses self-organizing teams and encourages rapid and flexible response to requirements changes.  The Agile Manifesto, written in 2001 by a group of software developers and consultants, emphasizes four basic tenets:

-  Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
-  Working software over comprehensive documentation
-  Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
-  Responding to change over following a plan

In recent years agile has gained worldwide momentum within both small and large-scale software development projects.  VersionOne’s annual survey of 4,048 developers found that 83% of respondents plan to implement agile in future projects – up from 59% in 2011.  Although the degree of agile adoption varied among our panelists’ organizations, all agreed that agile will have a place in upcoming development projects.

“Like other trends such as mobile and cloud,” said Brian Sondergaard VP/CIO of Global Payment Solutions for Fiserv, “this is another change that is sort of an inevitability of our industry.”  Fiserv, a global financial solutions provider, employs close to 23,000 people with about 600 dedicated to development.  “We’ve got just about one of every technology that’s been invented, and one of every methodology that’s ever been used,” said Sondergaard.  “Today, we are one hundred percent, top to bottom, across all systems, agile development,” he said.

Ken Rabun, CTO for Conisus, a healthcare education and information network, has also become an agile advocate.  “We went to agile about two years ago and it transformed our development process,” said Rabun.  “We’re still learning, we’re still working at it, still don’t get everything right but it literally changed the company’s ability to run projects and produce products.”  Rabun said the biggest result of agile’s iterative process was that “it forced the relationship between the application development teams and the business side of the organization.”

Our other panelists described a hybrid approach to managing development and implementation of large-scale applications. “We have been moving all of our payment applications off the mainframe and into the distributed world,” said Anne DeBeer, CTO for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta,  “including funds transfer, which is the system that is used for transfers between the financial institutions of the US.”  DeBeer says that they have incorporated agile in about half of these multiyear projects whose price tags run in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  “We’ve also developed our own application development technology project standards.  And we now have an office devoted to project management for large-scale projects.  We ran into a situation where projects were always late and over budget, so we’ve done a lot to try and corral these complex projects and try and do them a better way.  We’re making progress on that but it is a work in progress and we’re still looking for ways to improve large-scale project implementation – it’s a very critical area,” said DeBeers.

Clearly agile will continue to help organizations of all stripes improve and streamline their application development processes.  As tools and platform vendors that embrace agile methods proliferate, consulting organizations with experience in solving the challenges associated with agile in larger, more complex enterprises have also emerged.


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