Handbook for Implementing Agile in Department of Defense Information Technology Acquisition

March 2011
Carlton Northern, The MITRE Corporation
Dr. Kathleen M. Mayfield, The MITRE Corporation
Robert Benito, The MITRE Corporation
Michelle Casagni, The MITRE Corporation
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The ability to rapidly produce and deploy information technology (IT) based capabilities in the United States Department of Defense (DOD) that meet the ever-evolving needs of the Warfighter is a challenging endeavor. DOD acquisition projects typically follow a highly structured, top-down, step-by-step process, based on the assumption that an end state is known. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case in modern IT projects. Long development cycles and rapidly changing requirements make it difficult to properly identify the end state of an IT system at the onset of the project. Agile development is an industry accepted software development practice that is now beginning to emerge in Government programs. This report includes background information on Agile principles and methodologies from peer-reviewed industry and academic materials, MITRE technical reports, as well as interviews with members of DOD Programs that have implemented Agile development methodologies. This report describes how Agile development principles can be applied to an IT systems engineering effort, and explains how an Agile methodology could be used to benefit DOD Government acquisition and development programs. This report is intended to be used as a guidebook, to provide specific recommendations regarding the implementation of an Agile methodology. This handbook will be a living document and will be updated as lessons are learned.

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