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agile was established in those strategic programs, other teams began to see the value and then began to adopt agile as well.”
The my.harvard student information system was one of the first programs to adopt agile methodologies, because it enabled HUIT to balance the competing demands of diverse constituencies in a time of rapid change to aca-
“Agile helped us to create structures and processes for ongoing prioritization — and greatly enhanced the transparency for business stakeholders.”
—Jason Shaffner, Harvard University
demic programs, in addition to a complex, phased roll-out strategy, explained Jason Shaffner, managing director of administrative technology services. These factors neces- sitated tradeoffs between delivering new features and responding to operational support needs. “Agile helped us to create structures and processes for ongoing prioritiza- tion — and greatly enhanced the transparency for business stakeholders to understand the status of their requests in the broader context of the program,” he said.
The agile methodologies allowed HUIT to release incre-
mental changes on a continuous basis, synchronized to each milestone of the academic year. “The process — and the trust it allowed us to build over time with stakeholders — also enabled us to emphasize the highest-value features and to avoid some of the feature bloat common to ERP system implementations,” Shaffner said.
Agile does require some training. Harvard IT leadership created an in-house training program, the IT Academy, a multi-year development program designed for Harvard IT professionals by Harvard IT professionals. “Through the IT Academy, we can offer all of our IT staff across the univer- sity an opportunity to learn the basics of agile, and dive much deeper to become experts who can teach others,” said Deirdre Schreiber, senior training program manager. HUIT also has an Agile Community of Practice and an Agile Working Group to provide guidance to those working on new training content that can be used to educate other Harvard IT staff.
Not everyone in the organization is going to embrace agile right away, Schreiber added. “HUIT provides numer- ous opportunities for people to experiment with how they work, and supports them even if they fail. Over the long term, this culture has enabled HUIT to succeed by learning what works.”
CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | October/November 2018
David Raths is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.
Sabelskaya /Shutterstock/CT Staff

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