Agile development

Agile software development has been gaining major traction since a selection of leading programmers met in Utah in 2001 and created the Agile Manifesto.

The methodology takes an iterative and incremental approach to development through short cycles focused on specific elements of a project. If used correctly, it can enhance collaboration and deliver better products more quickly and efficiently than traditional methods.

Some of the UK's leading CIOs told us how they're deploying agile methods.

Read next: CIOs guide to Agile project management

"We have delivered over 20 Agile iterations to help build Europe's largest digital product, universal credit. We've redesigned our organisation in favour of multidisciplinary Agile teams iterating frequently and delivering often. No longer do we spend all our efforts tracking milestones on a plan. Instead, we ask ourselves 'what did we deliver last week'?"
Mayank Prakash, Chief Digital and Information Officer at the Department for Work & Pensions


"All our development teams are in continuous delivery. Moving from one release every six weeks in 2014 to 185 production releases a week today means we are over 1,000 times more agile than we were two years ago. However, reliability is also critical to our customers, and the same period has seen our unplanned downtime reduce by more than 60%."
Mark Holt, CTO at Trainline


"Digital services use lean and Agile approaches to develop new products and services. Following through on my strategic mantra that projects are an outdated concept, our focus is now on products and three-month chunks of work.

"This shift from projects to products means that business product owners work directly with IS product management teams to make sure that the end customer experience drives the prioritisation, development and deployment of new products. This approach has been very successful and I am seeing it embraced across Atkins and our clients." 
Richard Cross, ClearChannel Chief Digital Officer, then CDO/CIO at WS Atkins


"The Agile way we work ensures that we form close relationships with colleagues in the business to specify exactly what our business and customers need and make adjustments during the development phases if needed." 
Neil Pearce, Group CIO at Travis Perkins


"We are organised in a matrix model that fully supports an Agile way of working. This means that in the development function many people will feel like they have two managers. A delivery manager ensures that Agile squads deliver rapid sprints of work at a high velocity, while functional practice leads ensure that developers work to the correct coding standards, testers make full use of automation, and so on.

"Even in the legacy systems space we can deliver change in an Agile way, but have to revert to a waterfall release management process as opposed to the more effective way of realising value through continuous delivery."
Adam Gerrard, CIO at Yodel


"We have been working as an Agile delivery organisation for our digital products for the past two-and-a-half years. In the last 12 months, the team and I have implemented this way of working into our back office systems tasks, extending good governance and quick delivery to the services we provide to our colleagues. Agile methods have also been adopted by other (non-technical) parts of the company."
Rex Cooper, Chief Technology Officer at BMJ


"To ensure change is still possible for the business, and ultimately for the customers, I run a number of '90-day challenges' where we change process, communications and systems to solve a problem or seize an opportunity.

"The 90-day approach was introduced in 2015 and won us the Agile Awards for Best Use of Agile Outside of IT and Best Lean Implementation. It has continued to be used with great success in delivering improvements while the major transformational work progresses."
Tom Clark, CIO at Leeds Building Society


"The IT team has created a new common Agile methodology (ChopChop), which has been adopted across three global development teams and moves us towards a two-week cycle of releases into production on global platforms being used by more than 30 countries."
John Saffrett, Global Chief Administration Officer at ALD Automotive


"All our product teams now use some form of agile approach. This has extended beyond software engineering into our operations, HR and finance teams, with the ultimate goal of creating a more nimble business."
Rob Harding, CIO at Capital One