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How the World's Biggest Agile Software Development Project Went Wrong

The Universal Credit program hasn't made good on its promises.


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When it got underway two years ago, the UK's Universal Credit program was touted as the world's biggest agile software development project. But now, the £2.4 billion project is over budget and behind schedule. The government agency in charge of the program says it can't guarantee that the money it has spent so far will provide "good value."

So what went wrong?

Many say the project wasn't agile enough. It took two years from the time the project started to release the first build, and suppliers' requirements were detailed very specifically at the start. The UK Cabinet Office reported, "The Cabinet Office does not consider that the Department has at any point prior to the reset appropriately adopted an agile approach to managing the Universal Credit programme."



Agile methodology expert Jose Casal-Gimenez notes, "Organisations that are very hierarchical will have a challenge dealing with the differing mindsets surrounding collaboration, work and being comfortable with mistakes. The bigger the organisation, the more complex and the more traditional an organisation is, the longer it will take."

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