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Agile Development

Agile development takes software’s chaotic nature into account by asking that teams create software incrementally and iteratively, developing chunks of functionality each work cycle (or “sprint”).

Archive for the ‘Scrum’

The Agile ALM Infrastructure

January 03, 2012 By: admin Category: agile, Agile Enterprise, Application Lifecycle Management, Scrum

Enterprises often find themselves in a position where a myriad of point tools have been deployed in various teams to address specific, tactical problems. Over time, the number of tools grows. Bi-directional interfaces may in some cases be written and deployed, but as new versions of the underlying tools are released the interfaces must be updated, or the tools are simply not kept up to date. A combination of 1) easy-to-acquire and isolated open source and agile point tools, 2) disconnected and incompatible groupware tools, 3) expensive and limited legacy systems, and 4) source code contributions from internal, external and open source communities, is leading to:

• Divergent, brittle and expensive-to-maintain development tools and processes;
• Lack of effective collaboration and leverage across teams;
• Limited visibility and implementation of common processes;
• Limited control of Intellectual Property (IP).

Organizations can better knit themselves together together with an integrated ALM platform that incorporates issue tracking, version control, build and test management, and release management. The system must provide traceability across the lifecycle, such that any change in any asset can be traced back to the issue that prompted the change in the first place.

Agile development processes are increasingly becoming mainstream in the enterprise. In fact, almost half of all development teams in enterprise development shops engage in agile development today, with 84% stating that Agile is used somewhere in their company. Effective adoption of Agile development requires an ALM infrastructure that fully supports it. The infrastructure itself must be adaptable and flexible, while at the same time delivering the governance, security and traceability enterprises need.

An Agile ALM infrastructure delivers huge benefits to the enterprise:

1. Increases developer productivity, as teams share best practices for development and deployment
2. Improves quality, ensuring that final application meets the needs and expectations of users
3. Accelerates development and improves time to market
4. Enhances collaboration and optimizes information flow.

Reflections on Agile 2011

November 15, 2011 By: admin Category: agile, Agile Conferences, Agile Enterprise, Scrum

On the tenth anniversary of the Agile Manifesto, the Agile 2011 conference held last week in Salt Lake City, UT was an important milestone. With about 1,600 visitors from around the world, this conference is testament to the extraordinary growth of Agile as a development framework. If the number of large-scale, global enterprises in attendance is any indication, it’s safe to say that Agile is rapidly gaining mainstream acceptance.

With the benefits so clearly delineated, why is it still “gaining” mainstream acceptance? Why isn’t it already the de facto standard?
I would posit two related reasons for this:

1. Agile education (including the sessions at Agile 2011) is too theoretical;
2. There is an overabundance of focus on the people and project management aspects of Agile and little on the engineering disciplines that must be implemented.

I made it a point to engage with as many attendees at Agile 2011 as possible, and in so doing I gained a broad (if unscientific) consensus that as smart as the presenters were, and as compelling as their ideas were, many were lacking in practicality. It’s not that the ideas themselves were invalid or not useful. It is just that the ability to put those ideas into practice was not there. Or as one participant said to me, “When I get to the office on Monday morning, how exactly, do I take advantage of what I learned?”

Stepping back from Agile 2011 and looking at Agile education in general, you might see the same criticism about the ScrumMaster, Product Owner and other certification classes. They teach you the theory, but not (in most cases) the practical application of that theory.

I understand that Agile is a framework that can be applied to many disciplines – it is not just software engineering. I’ve seen marketing and sales teams that benefit from practicing Agile, but for this blog, I’ll just concentrate on the core use-case of Agile – Software Engineering. I would argue that software engineering teams doing iterative development of any kind must employ underlying disciplines and technologies to make it successful. The human and project management aspects must have the underpinning of Agile software engineering crafts like continuous integration, pair programming, test driven development and others.

One of the primary criticisms I heard at Agile 2011 was the lack of such sessions. The handful that were offered were standing-room only, attesting to the demand from the delegates. In future conferences (Agile 2012 amongst others) I am hopeful that we will see sessions that directly address these two concerns. For the former, I hope to see case studies, presented by the users themselves rather than the vendor or consultant who assisted in the implementation. The difficulties and problems are just as important to understand as the solutions, and it isn’t necessarily in the interest of vendors and consultants to highlight these. For the latter, I am hopeful that we will see more “hard-core” technical sessions which will help delegates adopt the underlying disciplines more effectively.

Scrum and Kanban: Where’s the Synergy or Incompatibility?

April 23, 2010 By: admin Category: agile, kanban, Scrum

There’s an interesting discussion going on in the Scrum Alliance Google group about “Scrum and Kanban” which was raised by one of the members (who coincidentally raised this topic last month – but called it “Scrum vs. Kanban”). Does this tell us anything about his position? At any rate, within a few days over 100 comments have been posted as people passionately debate the topic. Some feel that Scrum and Kanban are at odds with each other, while others see a possible synergistic relationship. Others feel that even if you could mix the two processes it dilutes the value of both. Even if you wanted to combine the processes, it is not clear how they can be mixed since, as one person said “Kanban is continuous flow, with no iteration planning, whereas timboxing and iteration is essential to Scrum”. How can this be mixed? Are they fundamentally different things? Michael James, a Certified Scrum Trainer, cautions that we be careful in our definitions as he says in Toyota, kanbans are just cards with ID numbers and barcodes for replenishment. There is a movement in the Agile software development that unfortunately calls itself “Kanban” though it is based on other ideas such as continuous flow and limited work in progress (inventory).