Case Study : Agile delivered 6 times faster and saved 90% budget!

August 26, 2013


In March 2006, the FBI initiated development of Sentinel [to replace the failed Virtual Case File system], targeting an end-user base of more than 30,000 FBI agents, analysts, and administrative employees. Original estimates for Sentinel were $451 million to develop and deploy by December 2009. 

But by August 2010, the FBI had spent $405 million of the $451 million. Sentinel budget but delivered the functionality for only two of Sentinel’s four phases. Because of the cost and timeline overages, the FBI issued a stop-work order in July 2010 that directed Lockheed Martin to halt all work on the two remaining phases of Sentinel.

An audit conducted by Mitre had previously concluded that the FBI would need an additional $351 million and six more years if it had continued with its traditional approach.

[In 2010,] The FBI moved the entire Sentinel project t o t he basement of the FBI building in Washington, DC, and reduced the Sentinel staff from 400 to 45 people, 15 of whom were programmers. The CTO ran the project himself, managing to ward a goal of delivering some of Sentinel’s functionality every 30 days. 

By November 2011, within a year of restarting with the new approach, all phases of Sentinel had been completed. The software was deployed to a pilot group of FBI locations, and remaining offices are scheduled to see deployment b y June , 2012 . The FB I was able to complete Sentinel for $30 million dollars within 12-months, a cost savings of more than 90 percent.

From Software in 30 Days, Ken Schwaber & Jeff Sutherland, 2012