…[T]he team that started by performing bug fixes on a sprawling, struggling mass of code ended by writing critical, efficient infrastructure for the government. Yet what the MPL team accomplished philosophically may be even more important: It helped teach government bureaucrats how to think about building websites in 2015.
The government’s method of running software turned on a sequential design strategy known as “the waterfall”: a central calendar, the Gantt chart to end all Gantt charts, that promulgated when every task would finish. The government tried running software development as a bureaucratic process, with project managers managing project managers, and the whole thing broke.
The team instead worked in an “agile” way, which favors small, cross-disciplinary teams that stay in close communication with each other while quickly finishing iterative improvements to a product (often software).