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The Emerging Trend of Agile for Non-Development Projects

Recently I attended a session of the Brisbane Agile Academy Meetup Group (which I highly recommend, and not just for the free pizza!) chaired by Craig Smith, on Using Agile for Non-Development Projects.

I must admit have a special interest in this idea: ever since I began using Agile for software development I have fantasised about its potential for non-development projects. I used it to partly plan my recent round the world trip. A former colleague of mine was using it to plan his wedding. If it works for a software team, it could work elsewhere… right?

But it’s never quite that easy, is it? It can be difficult to get buy-in for an Agile process in a development team, depending on the level of management support and developer engagement. Imagine how much harder it must be to get momentum in an environment or industry that may not have even heard of Agile!

Having these doubts in mind, the session was a real eye-opener for me. I was introduced to real people working in corporate teams using Agile for non-software projects.

Some examples I have discovered:

  • The bank, Suncorp is using Agile for finance and procurement teams, with an Agile coach from software development background, and by mapping Agile onto standard processes
  • The telecommunications company Telstra is applying Agile while providing external services to Suncorp, integrating with Suncorp’s preferred business service methodology
  • Lonely Planet’s team of in-house lawyers is now using Agile to plan their work load and ensure priority items are done on time (Beverley Head in Agile Today, May 2011)
  • AccuRev trained their whole sales team in Certified Scrum Training and adopted a quarterly iteration period, aligning with their sales cycle

I am looking forward to watching this trend continue.

Perhaps it might become the silver bullet to unlock the next wave of productivity growth for teams of knowledge workers. Or maybe lots of story boards will just end up getting thrown off rooftops!

What do you think? Do you know of any other examples of Agile being used in non development environments?

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Craig Smith May 25, 2011, 1:37 pm

    Thanks for the mention Brendan! Whether it is agile or lean, there is still a lot of untapped potential in non-software development areas.

  • Andrea Steel May 28, 2011, 8:03 pm

    Hello, just read your blog as I was researching the use of agile methodology in non-IT in health care.
    Do you know of any good examples of agile being used in health?

    • brendan May 29, 2011, 8:34 am

      @Andrea, I don’t know personally know of any examples in health, but I will ask around for you.

      Which area do you work in, out of interest?

      • Andrea Steel May 31, 2011, 8:06 am

        I am actually developing a PhD research proposal about the applicability of agile methodology in primary health care, for example, would be it be suitable to use to develop new services across the new GP consortia?

    • Michael June 25, 2013, 1:43 am

      My team of analytics professionals is using Agile to deliver insights, efficiencies, and performance reviews within the operations division of a multi-state insurance company. It’s not a textbook application but the principles are sound.

      • Karen Price January 15, 2016, 6:54 pm

        I have been researching this as well. I’ve been working within a PMO where we work with Agile teams to that deliver software. We have decided to use some of the Agile practices in planning our work. You can utilize some of activities but still not everything within PMO. I utilize myself Agile practices in my personal life. I use a hyprid approach. My project for example: Retire in 10 years. I create a scope statement and a WBS using Waterfall. I then further break down that work into Epic, Features, and userstories. I incorporate 2 week sprints. I create a backlog for everything that has to get done. I work with my partner and we have a Sprint Planning session and plan what can be accomplished over the next 2 weeks. I have a Sprint Retro and end and we evualate our progress and what we need to approve on. I LOVE IT!!!!

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