When Management Won’t Get on Board with Agile Development

Agile development requires a huge commitment coupled with a significant investment by any company. Your team needs time to assimilate and master the values, principles, and methodology and apply it to your company’s situation. A corporate culture of learning, experiment, and making mistakes will lead to successfully adopting agile methodology.

For the most part, IT teams and developers are more than willing to try agile development. People working in supporting functions in other business departments can throw up some pretty strong resistance though. They have strong beliefs about “this is the way things get done around here.”

See if any of the following sounds familiar.

  • We can’t govern agile projects properly like we can traditional ones. How do we control the budget? How about the stakeholders; where’s the engagement and accountability?
  • Let’s tweak the scrum methods and adapt them to meet our traditional management focus.
  • Agile is just another fad or a fading methodology.
  • Let’s create a lot of progress reports to cover the fact that no one really knows our true progress—until it’s too late.

How can you get the support and the resources you need from others in your organization? Especially when you’re facing mindsets like those above?

The answer is to get your Chief Financial Officer on board with agile development. CFOs are responsible for budgeting and financial controls. They’re most interested in being able to measure ROI, transparency, and benchmarks to help predict future performance. In fact, they’re not adverse to technology solutions and look for ways to invest in improvements.

Here are 4 ways to get your CFO excited about agile methodology and the benefits and financial impact it can have.

1—Quantify the advantages

CFOs need to measure everything. You can show your CFO how agile development delivers value in small increments that are easy to analyze and determine ROI. It’s also easy to track and plan future budgets. Consider comparing agile to the just-in-time inventory and drop-ship models. This helps give your CFO a vision of how agile can impact your company. They’ll soon see the value of building features in a shorter timeframe because they know longer cycles are inefficient.

2—Quantify technical debt

Technical debt is when your code is already clean, but you go into “debt” by cutting corners to meet a critical business deadline. You figure you can pay it back later with refactoring. However, this leaves your code a nightmare of breakable, mystery junk that tends to lead to disaster.

You can manage this technical debt by justifying a commitment to quality through agile practices that chip away at the debt. Then you quantify the technical debt by calculating the cost of change over time. You also estimate the time and money needed to fix these quality deficits. The key is to monetize your technical debt so that the CFO understands and appreciates its impact.


Immediate feedback on agile development projects offers transparency into the status and progress of projects. Immediate feedback is uncommon in traditional projects with long release cycles. Show your CFO how visible status is in an agile process through sprint burndown charts. You can also provide boards showing what’s done and what’s in progress and the results from continuous integration.

Even if something goes wrong in an agile project, it’s immediately identified and rectified so the project gets back on track. CFOs like seeing this kind of rate of progress.

4—Long-term success

Make sure the CFO is aware that success won’t come overnight. It can take months, even more than a year, to gain traction because everyone involved has a lot to learn. You can still show your CFO how you’ll measure ROI during this learning phase because your team will deliver at a faster rate and you’ll reduce your defect rate because you’re focused on quality.

These results will delight any CFO.


Getting management and others on board with agile development won’t be easy. But if you can get your CFO on your side, he or she can spin their financial magic and prove the solid return on investment that agile methodology will generate. And when your CFO is excited about ROI, others feel confident that the investment is worthwhile.

If you’re interested in agile planning and development, visit hutwork.com to learn more about our powerful platform that streamlines your agile process and combines planning, collaboration, management, tracking, and reporting in one fully integrated system.


Chris Ball

Hi, I'm a Co-Founder at Hutwork. I'm responsible for making sure everything ticks! Click here to check us out on twitter.

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