FCWA post from FCW contends that a crucial key to successful agile development projects for agencies is to seek out teams of developers that are truly skilled and efficient — not just the ones with the lowest price tag. This could cost more time and money up front, but in the long run it’s the only way to leave behind the “startup curve” and allow organizations to reach their full potential.

From the article:

The latest trend in agile contracting is creating contract mechanisms that allow the government to buy teams of programmers and coders for short periods of time.

For example, an agency might want an agile team of seven or eight people for the next six months. But there is no ready “bench” of agile teams (much less high-performing teams) waiting to ship out whenever the government decides it needs them. Building productive teams takes time, because they need to learn to work together and to learn the mission and problem domain.

Also, leadership needs to frequently make adjustments in staffing in response to changing conditions or to correct a bad fit. Only rarely does a team become high-performing in less than six months. The result: organizations never reach their potential — which keeps costs higher and quality lower. I equate it to feeling like you’re stuck in first gear.

. . .

The lesson is clear. To improve contracting for agile development in the federal government, organizations should seek small- to medium-sized, multi-year contracts for small, high-performing teams. Hold the contractor accountable for timely, incremental delivery of quality software. Multi-year contracts allow the vendor community to hone the team over time, bring the best possible skilled team members to the mission, and deliver savings, innovation and quality to the government.

Read the full article: Agile development requires agile developers | FCW