I'm interested to know the opinion of members about the suitability of the Agile methodology for Systems Integration type projects. Seems to me that Agile is only suitable for projects that fall into a narrow set of criteria e.g. Software Intensive, solutions that involve a high level of user interaction, co-located small size project team, a customer willing to pay time & materials for each Agile iteration, minimal or no 3rd party vendors etc. "Being Agile" is the new mantra of executives and senior managers as a means to achieve the holy grail of faster, cheaper and working.
There certainly seems to be a lot of "talk" at the moment about Agile without a full understanding of the constraints that you clearly highlighted.
In a commercial environment (Banks/Telecoms) I am finding that unless the whole organisation is aligned to agile it is difficult for a single project to adopt this methodology. This is partticularly so when organisations have annual funding cycles and are seeking to understanding where to place their investment.
In 12 months time I expect we will see where Agile has found its natural home and which industries/organisations have aligned themselves in order to reap the benefits of this style of development.
What be of more interest is how Systems Engineering can operate in a project where an agile development methodology has been selected. . .
Paul, I am running my current project in an agile manner - but it does meet almost all your criteria - high user interaction, small project team, T&M budget. My team is not colocated, and this has had some challenges, and I have four vendors involved, which has also had some challenges.
From an SE point of view, we have been developing and documenting requirements in parallel with the code development. At the start I issued a spec which had the general form of what was required, but detailed requriements have evolved with the project. Testing (which is what we are now up to) is interesting as I don't have a requirements baseline to test against. Instead we will use user focus groups to determine the operational acceptability of what we have built. Another issue has been the absence of a separation between acquirer and supplier, so I am in the position of needing to do customer acceptance of a product that I have been closely involved in the specification, design and build of.