Selling Agile to the CFO: A Guide for Development Teams - Slide 6

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The difference between agile and traditional projects is dramatic from the CFO point of view. In a traditional project, with long release cycles, there’s no way to know the status of the project on a daily basis. Project managers might have Gantt charts or project plans, but they do nothing to prevent the nasty shock when the release doesn’t happen on schedule. On the flipside, an agile project’s many sources of immediate feedback provide CFOs with much more certainty and predictability.

Demonstrate agile’s many “big visible charts” to your CFO. Show how the project’s current status is visible: release and sprint burndown charts, task or Kanban boards showing what’s done, what’s in progress and what’s blocked, results from continuous integration. Even if an iteration goes awry and some user stories are not completed, the reasons can be identified immediately with retrospectives, and the project can get right back on track. CFOs like anything that shows rates of progress. Agile has these tools; show them off.

Your programming team is on board with agile and the notion of iterative design and development, but the financial executives prefer to think in terms of “Just tell me when it’ll be ready and how much it’ll cost.” If you can sell the CFO on the agile methodology, you’ll have an ally in the board room.

Agile adoption requires a big investment by your company, not just by the development and QA staff. Your team needs time to master agile values, principles, and practices, and to apply them to your unique situation. A culture of learning, time to experiment, and tolerance for mistakes are essential to successfully improving software quality and responding to changing business requirements. How can you get the resources and long-term support you need from the business?

Here’s a good strategy: Get your chief financial officer (CFO) on board. Telling the CFO, “We want to do this” probably won’t work. After speaking with both financial and software experts, including her own company’s CFO, Lisa Crispin, an agile testing practitioner and coach, is confident that you can make agile an easy sell.

Here are seven tips from Lisa Crispin, highlighted in her post on the Software Quality Connection, to help you sell agile to your CFO.

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