Running on Hybrid: Control Changes when Introducing an Agile Methodology in a Traditional 'Waterfall' System Development Environment
Prior to implementing "Agile" software development methods, organizations rooted in traditional "Waterfall" software development employed heavy upfront project design and limited changes and feedback during and between project stages. Waterfall methods make heavy use of outcome controls primarily monitored by the information systems function (ISF). This paper explores the control mechanisms used by the ISF and business function (BF) during and after the introduction of a major Agile project at a large U.S. company steeped in the traditional Waterfall method. Outcome control, the predominant control mechanism used in the case company, gave way to a hybrid-like control that possessed mechanisms of emergent control while maintaining vestiges of some Waterfall-like outcome control. We observed that, prior to the introduction of Agile, the software-development process was firmly in the hands of the ISF. The introduction of Agile shifted some of the controller authority over the development process from the ISF to the BF. Lessons learned from the case study point to the complexity of designing control mechanisms during a transition from the Waterfall method to an Agile approach.