What Insurers Need to Know Before Adopting Agile Development

Adopting the Agile methodology for software development can be a challenge for insurance IT organizations, but the benefits of Agile Development outweigh the risks.
June 15, 2012

Agile software development – a group of simple, iterative, incremental processes that strongly encourage both collaboration and creativity – allows for more adaptability, increased flexibility and more participation from end users on the business side. By employing agile methods in their software development processes, insurance companies can gain a considerable competitive advantage and reap a variety of benefits. What should insurance companies know if they are looking to adopt agile development? What are the benefits of agile development? What are the success factors, and what are the risks?

To Achieve Agile Development Success, Agree on the Approach and Methodology

By Mike Anselmo, CIO, Narragansett Bay Insurance Company (Pawtucket, R.I.)

Agile development has the potential of delivering a much better end product, and it requires much more interaction with the business. Agile also enables IT to develop multiple iterations of a prototype for long-term projects with more visibility as the project evolves, as well as more ability to introduce changes as you move along. But if an insurer is changing from a waterfall methodology to an Agile methodology, it must have a strong execution plan in place with senior management support or it will be very easy for the insurer to revert back quickly to a waterfall methodology.

A major benefit of Agile Development is that insurers get a better product and better agreement at the end of the project than otherwise would have been the case. A downside of Agile is that projects sometimes can take longer than expected because you could allow scope changes during the project rather than agreeing on requirements at the very beginning, so there’s some risk involved here as well.

The benefits do outweigh the risks. For Agile Development to be successful, everyone involved must comprehend and agree on the approach. Everyone must be on the same page, and they must be sufficiently trained in Agile methodology. If not, employing Agile methods in the software development process can be very challenging.

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