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What is transparency, and how can Agile practices help?

As I was interviewing experts and practitioners this week on the uses of Agile practices, the term transparency kept popping up in comments about the benefits of using this type of software development methodology. So I started thinking: What is transparency, and how does Agile help achieve it?

Transparency is about openness and accountability in all areas of the business. In today’s economy, transparency is more important than ever, as companies are forced to strictly manage costs and resource utilization. And for midmarket companies that have smaller budgets and fewer resources to complete projects, using Agile practices to effectively develop and deliver software can help with transparency. It’s even known as agile transparency.

Alliant Insurance uses Agile practices for projects ranging from building a CRM system in-house to creating a customized website for an individual insurance broker. According to Eric Kaufman, VP of software development at the midsized insurance company, one of the main advantages of using Agile is transparency. “By using Agile practices, you know the status of all projects, all the time,” said Kaufman.

Kaufman’s team is using the Scrum discipline for Agile projects. Scrum practices are all about keeping the team connected and the project sponsor updated. A regular practice with Scrum is a daily stand-up meeting. Every day, the Agile project team meets and reviews what everyone did that day, the day before and what their plans are for the next day. It’s a way of keeping the project on track, quickly identifying any issues and providing transparency to the team leader and project sponsor.

Dave West, senior analyst with Forrester Research, echoed the benefits of transparency in using Agile practices. “There’s no place to hide with daily meetings [and] dashboards. And clear measures ensure that everyone knows what’s happening and what the status of the project is,” said West.

For midmarket IT organizations looking to impress the business, prove their value and provide more transparency into their workloads, getting Agile might be the answer.

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