Software implementation methodology health-check


The pace at which technology drives change within the market place and within organizations has given alternative, agile software development methodologies a great boost over the last decade.

This development is particularly observable in the customer-facing areas of Marketing, Sales and Customer Service as these areas benefit strongly from Digital and cloud technology advances. Often the change towards agile methodologies and frameworks is perceived by different parts of the organization as an opportunity, necessity or challenge.

Agile software development approaches are seen as an opportunity for dealing with continuously evolving requirements and for controlling the risk of developing towards outdated specifications in a better way. Driven by changes in the market place, such capability is even becoming a necessity for survival—at least the business side of the enterprise often sees it that way and research confirms this perception.

On the other hand such new approaches require the IT and business organizations to change because processes, policies, technology choices and implementation service contracting which worked well with waterfall create conflict with agile approaches.

Sometimes the result is a half-hearted mix of agile techniques with waterfall-like planning, project governance and quality assurance.

Careful consideration and some confidence is required in navigating the path towards more agility. And yet in some cases constraints, like monolithic legacy application architecture which can’t be changed quickly may prevent adoption of new approaches for the time being.

The decision, which methodology to choose for a specific context can be difficult, yet it is very relevant.


The difficulty organizations are faced with when defining their new agile approach in software development and systems integration is caused by the breath of required change. Factors in many dimensions impose constraints such that agile techniques and frameworks can’t be applied right away and therefore either employed methodologies or constraining factors require adaptation.

One such factor, possibly the most important one, is collaboration culture. Late specification of details for a software solution, typically perceived as nuisance by implementation teams, becomes the new norm. On the other hand business stakeholders are expected to involve themselves regularly, despite on- going day-to-day business operations. In fact, involvement should go as far as business and IT stakeholders literally being one team.

The budgeting process and estimation of benefits in business cases is another constraining factor in need of review and adaptation.

Skills and technology required for development of software in an agile mode, e.g. automated testing, continuous integration or possibly DevOps, may need to be built up within the IT organization.

Enterprise architects may need to define how legacy application architecture can be adapted to facilitate time-boxed development iterations. In the same area, rules for exceptions need to be defined. Particularly in the case of bi-modal IT, where both waterfall and agile projects co-exist, the dependencies which cross modes require special attention.

Last to mention but not the least important factor is the level of executive support and sponsorship, which must not be underestimated for enabling agile approaches live up to the expectations.


Accenture helps organizations in assessing the fit to agile and waterfall methodologies, either for single projects or for the entire organization. The assessment is based on Accenture’s broad experience of successfully delivered projects which was distilled into a comprehensive scorecard covering the wide spectrum of influencing factors described earlier.

Based on the results a roadmap and action plan are elaborated in close alignment with client goals and expectations. If requested, Accenture supports change along the roadmap with coaching.

Phase 1: Assessment
Depending on selected breadth of assessment and number of involved stakeholders, the assessment can be conducted and completed in as little as one week’s time. This first phase consists of interviews conducted by experienced Accenture methodologists and concludes with presentation of assessment results. These results guide towards the best fitting methodology and the degree of current mastery of such.

Phase 2: Roadmap
In a second phase a roadmap towards greater methodology mastery or implementation maturity is defined, taking into consideration the overall strategic goals, identified risks and constraints of the specific client situation.

Phase 3: Coaching
In a third phase a dedicated methodology coach supports the project or organization with implementing the action plan and following the roadmap.

Agile Capability
On a world-wide scale, Accenture has more than 10 years’ experience with agile software development in more than 600 client engagements, with team sizes exceeding 300 persons in large scale engagements. The agile capability fields more than 4.500 people in its capability, of which more than 2.700 are certified agile professionals. Accenture provides continuous Agile Program Management and supports clients in setting up new Agile Programs.


The use of agile development methodologies promises a better way of dealing with the challenges caused by market volatility, quickly evolving technology and complexity of software development in general. However, not every situation requires agile approaches and the shift towards agile can be challenging in itself. Proper choice and skillful execution of implementation methodology, be it waterfall or agile, is a major lever for:

Preventing the cost of delay, poor quality or superfluous efforts by elimination of root causes like communication and collaboration barriers, over-engineering or insufficient consideration of testing.

Increased reliability of time, scope or effort predictions for end-to-end software implementation efforts, e.g. through disciplined measurement of velocity in agile setups.

Building trust between business and implementation teams through reliable delivery of results and mutual understanding of business imperatives and solution constraints.

Increase of satisfaction from setting realistic expectations of results and reduction of unplanned stressful events, e.g. by plans matching capacity and regular iterations providing stability.

Accenture’s Software Methodology Health Check offering helps you achieve these benefits through identification and rectification of misalignments in methodology and influencing factors. In addition, through guided experience the organization learns to identify determining factors for making sound methodology decisions in the future, setting itself up for resilience.

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For more information contact Torsten Albrecht: