Agile Methods in Mexico
A Personal Outlook
14 February 2014
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In 2011 I had the opportunity to travel to the cities of Guadalajara, Jalisco; Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes; and the capital, Mexico City, to teach courses on business management software. I am a business consultant and have a software factory, ACVS Business Knowledge. The project originated from my contact with AMITI (Asociación Mexicana de la Industria de Tecnologías de Información, or Mexican Information Technology Industry Association), and we coordinate with the software cluster in those states.
For those who are unfamiliar with the development of the IT industry in Mexico, the north, notably Monterrey in the state of Nuevo León; the center (Distrito Federal and Aguascalientes), and the west of the country (Jalisco) are regions and states in which the software industry has boomed in the last 20 years.
I was able to contact 36 software companies in Aguascalientes, Guadalajara, and Mexico City. This allowed me to learn about the great enthusiasm that people have for the industry to which they belong, but it was also evident that there are many areas for improvement, particularly in company management.
Most of the leaders of these companies are deeply involved in the development of services and/or products delivered to their customers. So it was surprising to see that none of them had certification in any of the Agile methods for software development. There were those who said they made use of Scrum empirically or "mixed" with other methods, such as Lean or XP, and there were even rarer cases of combining CMMI with Scrum.
The software companies I spoke with are 100 percent Mexican, and most are small, classified as microenterprises. A few have expanded in recent years because customers have anchors (business partners related to other industries and companies) that have allowed them to develop to a higher level. Then there are those who have achieved agreements with international companies under outsourcing schemes, offshore and onshore. However, few of those companies used PMI CMMI or some Agile methods.
Foreign companies in Mexico, especially those with Mexican partners, are the most enthusiastic when it comes to Agile methods for software development. Even so, they tend to be uninterested in companies linked to society, are rarely associated to local clusters, and seek more direct contact with universities. However, they are increasing throughout the country.
Much remains to be done. Companies need to trust that Scrum is a method that can help businesses, especially micro- and small businesses, become more Agile, flexible, and intelligent. Another aspect to consider is that most software companies in Mexico are start-ups. The software industry in Mexico is some thirty years old. Most software has been developed in universities, and few companies aided in developing information systems.
The lack of use of Agile methods in Mexico is easily verifiable -- just look at the forums on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks to see that their contents are limited and there is little writing about experiences. But here's an area of opportunity for those who are convinced that Scrum is a good way of working.
The Scrum Alliance community and others have helped me broaden my outlook and contact more ScrumMasters and read their contributions. We've updated much of our course content in management software companies, and many of these improvements have to do with what leaders have learned from the community.
I look forward to visiting these and more cities and to share my own experiences. The northern areas to visit are Baja California, Chihuahua, and Monterrey; in the south, the states of Veracruz, Yucatán, and Tabasco. More and more news about the growth of local software companies is arriving from these areas.
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