Agile in Regulated Industries

Agile in regulated industries — could that work? That is the topic of an upcoming webinar. I find this a bit ironic. Can we make Agile not work in regulated industries? Did Agile cause the Ariane V crash or was it “GRC (governance, risk and compliance)” that caused it?

The Ariane 5 Crash – due to a lack of Agile in Regulated Industries?

You will find the full and official crash investigation report here. Too summarize a major culprit in the crash was the project management methods and software engineering practices employed. Basically, some components were changed in terms of their output. Other entities were not modified regarding their corresponding inputs which caused a “range check error” which lead to a cascade of failures.

Could that have happened in an agile environment with test first mentality, continuous integration etc? Surely not. So what is the value of “GRC” if it does not lead to safer products? Colleagues in highly regulated industries tell me they have already moved to Agile with marked benefits.


So why is there still a discussion on if we should adapt Agile in this or that place? Probably due to misconceptions. Misconceptions about Agile being some kind of cowboy style development practice. Misconceptions about the excellence of the organization in question and how effective it really is in software development, compliance to waterfall/agile etc.

Using Agile in “highly regulated” industries should be a no-brainer. The Ariane 5 explosion is a good counter-example.

About Greger Wikstrand

Greger Wikstrand, Ph.D. M.Sc. is a TOGAF 9 certified enterprise architect with an interest in e-heatlh, m-health and all things agile as well as processes, methods and tools. Greger Wikstrand works as a consultant at Capgemini where he alternates between enterprise agile coaching, problem solving and designing large scale e-health services ...

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