FCWSteve Kelman of FCW writes about his conversation with John Inman, a contracting officer at U.S. Customs and Immigration Services, in which they discuss the real-world challenges faced by contractors and project managers making the switch to agile.

The cultural challenge for contracting professionals is the way agile breaks with the strong preference for specifications that are developed upfront, for which the contractor is then held responsible . . .

The cultural challenge for program managers is different, and actually may be harder to overcome. In agile, the “product owner” (agilese for the program manager) works together with the contractor rather than just throwing a requirement over the fence and asking for periodic reports and deliverables.

Kelman and Inman take a fascinating and in-depth look at how those issues can be overcome if agile champions can keep folks from quitting too soon. Inman points out,

“Training without practical experience is hard to do. Rather than trying to do official training telling people the official way to do contracts for agile, I wish the instructors would plan classes that teach correct principles and encourage people to experiment.”

In concluding, Inman said that his “biggest message to fellow contracting officers is to look for an agile opportunity — even though there isn’t much guidance yet, look at it as a professional challenge. I hope we will allow for experimentation and that we will accept some risk.”

Read the full article: What getting to agile looks like from the trenches | FCW