TechWell is an agile site that has been around for awhile. There is recent post on Agile and Federal Government. While the concepts of the post are useful, there are some issue with the underlying processes that need clarification.
Earned Value Does NOT Define the Development Process
The post suggests EVM requires Waterfall. First the development process defined in the picture on Page 2, is not allowed. Not to say there aren't people out there using it. While the Integrated Defense Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Life Cycle Management System may appear overwhelmingly complex, it is the basis for all complex acquisition processes. It defines an itertaive and incremental process for buying weapons systems. Increasing maturity of the deliverables is defined at each Program Event.
But in an EVM program which is defined by several Federal Acquisition Regulations and the Defense Supplement, DI-MGMT-81866 calls out an Integrated Master Schedule. Along with is the DOD acquisition Life Cycle process where incremental maturity of the delivered products are defined in the Integrated Master Plan. The Guide of the IMP/IMS shows how to build a credible Plan and Schedule for a program.
We have to remember EV is only required on programs greater than $20M and a validated system on programs greater than $50M. DOE requires EV on programs greater than $5M and HHS has similar requirements. But $20M of software development is a BIG program. And you'd better have something better than Scrum looking after the expenditure of $20,000,000 of the government's money.
Waterfall Replaced By Rolling Waves
The second picture suggests that Agile provides an iterative solution. But in fact Rolling Wave development, defined in the acquisition guides does the same. RW's can certainly be a substitute for iterations.
But a better solution is to move the Agile Iteration down to the Work Package level. A Work Package in the Earned Value Management paradigm, is a self contained "package of work" that produces a tangible outcome that fulfills the Criteria needed to complete the Accomplishments that define the increasing maturity of the deliverables for a specific Program Event. Look at the IMP/IMS Preparation and Use Guide for how to do this.
So Here We are Again
I'm speaking again at EVM World in Naples FL, on integrating Agile with EV. Notice a critical phrase, Agile integrated with EV. Not the other way around. If you have a project less than $20M and are currently using Agile, there is no need for EVM. Don't do it, assuming you've actually got control the program. EV can add value for sure, but it's not mandated.
Here's the previous briefing on integrating agile into EV - EV+Agile=Success. The current one is slightly better and will be available May 26th, 2013.
So What's the Point
While there is growing enthusiasm for integrating agile into government programs, the acquisition community has not caught up. The agileist suggesting how to do things need to understand more of how the acquisition community thinks about managing the government's money. Open ended development may be the rage in commercial business (probably not), not if we are be to good stewards of the public's money more than just agile needs to be in place.
This notion of agile on governemtn prorgams is itself an emerging topic, that needs much more discussion before true value can be created. There are examples of success in the AirForce, DOE, and NASA. I've worked some of those programs and written about them in conference proceedings. But to simply apply agile in the absence of the acquisiton communities participation is going to lead to disappointment. Agile is needed, but so are the controls in place in the FAR/DFARS processes.