Handling the Complexity of ISD Projects with Agile Methods: A Conceptual Foundation

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Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the 2012 International Conference on Information Systems Development, 2013, pp. 417 - 427
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Traditional approaches to software and information systems development (ISD) cannot fulfill the challenges presented by the complexity inherent in todays dynamic and changing environments. In this study we argue that ISD projects are socially complex endeavors and suggest that agile development methods display characteristics that justify them as being appropriate for such project environments. We suggest that one theory that justifies the appropriateness of agile methods in such contexts is the complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory. We first argue that ISD projects can be treated as CAS, and second, we assess the alignment between CAS characteristics and agile methods principles. We therefore propose and discuss a preliminary conceptual foundation for handling the complexity of ISD projects with agile methods. Our future research directions seek to investigate the applicability of specific agile methods and develop a comprehensive framework that will offer a validated theoretical justification of better approaches to manage complex ISD projects in practice.
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