Many individuals who have worked as part of an initiative to implement commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) systems have heard that agile approaches can’t work – that agile only works when building solutions from scratch or adding functionality to these systems. Are agile approaches actually preferable to traditional waterfall in these instances?

Here are some quick tips from LitheSpeed’s John Halberstadt for an agile approach to commercial off the shelf system implementation:

✅ Assess needs from a functional rather than technical foundation first to ensure core features and functionality meet anticipated needs
✅ Ask targeted questions to reference customers related to time/effort/expense for initial implementation and upgrades
✅ Understand the vendor roadmap and technical extensibility
✅ Iterate through implementation to get a “thin slice”, business usable increment of functionality stood up as quickly as possible

❌ Define exhaustive and prescriptive requirements for the full implementation initially
❌ Override foundational behavior, features and functionality solely to match current processes
❌ Do a “big bang”, monolithic implementation
❌ Customize via code until verified necessary that
……Functionality is truly needed, not just legacy system capabilities
……Configuration changes will not address the need
……Additional vendor or third-party modules/add-ons will not address the need
❌ Forget organizational change management

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