Agile in Higher Education IT: Myths and Methods

Agile is a buzzword bringing together a variety of practices, methods, products, and commercial services under one umbrella. There are good ideas with tangible value for IT teams in Agile literature, but there is also hype.

This presentation explores the real world adoption of Agile and lean project management methodologies by a software development team working in the higher education environment. We will discuss the processes and tools that enabled productivity, but on occasion failed to help the team avoid pitfalls. More hypothetical applications to the IT enterprise at large will also be covered, encompassing support and operations disciplines.

Agile software development is a loose family of methodologies that places a focus on delivering value to the customer incrementally in short time frames and adapting to meet ever-shifting goals. The application of these principles to everyday practice varies depending on the specific methodology adopted. Across the board, Agile places a high value on personal development through teamwork and the mitigation of risk through effective communication.

Literature on Agile methods is compelling, but often written for an environment significantly different from the higher education institution. Many Agile recommendations feel like best practices, but implementing best practices across a team can be deceptively tricky. Smaller teams are at a significant advantage when it comes to being Agile, so you may be surprised how Agile your team already is or you may find that only a few additional adjustments make a substantial difference.

Troy Hurteau – NC State

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