Question: Have you seen vendor driven agile working well in traditional waterfall companies?
I have to date not seen a situation where a vendor was using an agile approach, and the customer was a traditional waterfall company. I’m not saying that it does not happen, just that I have not seen it.
I think the answer is “It depends” on whether the client is willing to make the behavior change necessary to working in an agile manner.
To me “vendor driven agile” leads me to believe that there is a bit of interaction between people from the vendor and people from the customer working jointly to deliver a solution. In this case, I would be surprised to see a customer allowing the vendor to dictate an approach unless they (the customer) had agreed to this ahead of time. Based on my experience as a consultant, the vendor is usually better off to follow the client’s development methodology unless the client specifically ceded responsibility of that to the vendor. If that were the case, I would take that as a sign that the client is interested in learning the new approach and is looking to the vendor to pass along that knowledge.
If the client has explicitly signed up for that kind of approach, then this approach should work as long as the client is willing to learn some potentially disturbing things about their organization. One common occurrence with agile implementations is several problems that get in the way of teams being effective are uncovered as a result of the introduction to agile. Organizations adopting this approach need to realize that agile is not causing the problems, rather it is exposing the problems. If an organization is truly serious about adopting agile, they will be willing to resolve those issues as they are identified.
If the client is not serious about resolving the issues that are raised, a few things can happen. The client may believe that the vendor is heading down the wrong path and agile is causing several different problems, leading to a soured relationship between the client and the vendor. Conversely, if the vendor is afraid that the client will act this way, the vendor team members will not raise the issues that need to be addressed to make the team effective, again potentially hindering the vendor’s ability to deliver and the vendor/client relationship.