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CMS goes all-in on agile

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans an enterprisewide push  to adopt and integrate agile methodologies so it can better address the agency’s changing IT needs in the evolving health care environment.

CMS will work with Octo Consulting on an Agile Center of Excellence, which will help CMS share agile best practices, provide a strategic framework for agile adoption and offer training and advisory support for the entire agency.

Through the Agile Center of Excellence, CMS IT leaders will learn to leverage agile methodologies by incrementally implementing agile practices at the team, program and portfolio levels.  Octo will create action plans and training specifically designed to help CMS mature its agile processes, company officials said.Rather than the traditional waterfall approach to systems development that defines requirements up front and is built out over a long period of time, agile development relies on building software in two- to four-week sprints while gathering hands-on customer feedback to inform each iteration.

“Agile methods focus around engaging the user much more often …  to make sure that they like what you are building so that when you are done with it they are happy with the product,” Jay Shah, Octo executive vice president, told GCN.

Octo will be working with CMS’s Office of Information Technology on a strategy that fits in with the agency’s existing programs and missions. While bringing agile development to smaller projects is easier to implement, Shah said the adoption at CMS requires a larger-scale approach.

“We are looking at more of the enterprise, big-picture thinking that the CIO has to do,” Shah said.  Octo will take agile concepts “that might not have previously worked for large enterprise-scale systems and figure out how it can all work together.”

Over the past 10 years, Octo has worked to bring the agile best practices to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the General Services Administration.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@gcn.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.


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