This is the question posed by Damen Carr. His initial post is here.
In this post I would like to respond to this question.
Agile development in my view is not prescriptive and many organisations have embraced their own style to fit with their culture which has been an evolving process that is in itself improving with every project as more is learnt. For instance many organisations find some Agile Development techniques such as pair development contentious and therefore are not adopted, whilst many of the practices of Software Factories are far less contentious and therefore easier to adopt.
The reason for this is most I.T management is extremely formalist in thinking and Agile Development being essential a hermeneutic practice can seem too revolutionary for the tastes of most. Being firmly in the Hermeneutic camp I am a strong believer in Agile Development and if the choice was up to me I would throw caution to the wind and fully adopt, sadly this strategy is to risky for many and I fear my views are not yet mainstream.
Also to consider the relationship between Agile Development and Software Factories is undeniable, but are we saying that the new MSF Formal couldn’t be used in a Software Factory?
So in answer to your question I believe many practices of Software Factories will be easier to adopt than many practices of Agile Development, so it would be easier to move ahead with building the Software Factory without fully adopting Agile Development. So no, Agile Development isn’t completely a stepping stone to Software Factories, we have to be pragmatic.