Con-way adopts agile development, aided by SOA

2009 InfoWorld CTO 25 Awards: Jacquelyn Barretta

2009 InfoWorld CTO 25 Awards

Jacquelyn Barretta


In 2008, Jacquelyn Barretta led the adoption of agile development practices across the IT organization at transportation firm Con-way to bring IT development closer to the business and to better understand the voice of the customer. Con-way's agile adoption was also a response to the perceived failures of the previous waterfall methodology, which didn't encourage regular customer feedback, so larger projects often languished in the analysis and design phase.

To teach Con-way's development teams how to use agile development, Barretta hired a consulting firm to perform initial agile training through pilot projects, which identified Con-way developers who would become the agile coaches to the rest of the organization. Today, the agile method is in place at most of the Con-way development teams, which work within a continuous integration environment and use improved automated testing tools. Con-way's transition to agile was helped by the company's experience with SOA development, because the SOA approach had already taught developers to understand business requirements, which agile development also requires. "It was extremely helpful that our SOA platform was well defined before we decided to move to agile," she says.

The move to agile development did expose an issue related to Con-way's SOA methods: The governance process was too "heavy" to work at agile development's faster pace, so Barretta reconceived SOA governance itself as a lightweight process that relies more on direct communication between architects and developers than on formal process and documentation methods. Barretta says the modified governance ensures proper service design and conformance to the enterprise architecture.

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