Month: November 2010

A Couple of Extra Sprints Go a Long Way

If you begin your project with a sprint zero (or iteration zero), does that make you less agile and more like waterfall? A zeroth sprint is generally used to perform some upfront analysis or design work that serves as a foundation for the sprints to follow. It may involve a spike whereby there is a […]

Show Up and Be Agile!

Have you heard the semi-famous quote widely attributed to Woody Allen? “80% of success is showing up.” It’s good advice for everyone on your project team. Let’s first define “showing up”. A physical appearance at the office is not enough. In fact in today’s virtual world, a physical appearance may not matter at all. What […]

Some Projects Deserve to Die

A software project will occasionally get off to a bad start. Maybe it was ill conceived. Maybe the concept was good but the approach is wrong. Maybe the concept and the approach are correct but the team consists of the wrong people. Or, forget all that — maybe the project got off to a good […]

It’s Hard to Follow Agile Rules Exactly

Anytime a team embraces a new agile process a critical question comes up — must they rigidly adhere to the process guidelines or can they make adjustments to fit their needs? Even Scrum, with its simple rule set, falls into this unending debate. You won’t find a strong consensus answer. The compulsive agile practitioners will […]

What Makes Waterfall So Popular?

Big companies love the waterfall approach to software development. Why? It’s simple really. Most big companies thrive on the command and control approach to management. (Yes, it’s rooted in military history.) It works something like this: Define the goal. Prepare a plan to achieve the goal. Assemble the troops. Yell “charge” and schedule weekly status […]

Software Development Is a Faulty Process

Every software development methodology is flawed. Waterfall, Unified Process, Scrum, eXtreme Programming, Kanban, et al — they are all flawed. Each has a place but it’s tough to know which one fits a particular situation best. There are many aspects to consider — company culture, team size and experience, problem complexity and scope, solution type, […]

Agile: To Automate or Not, Does it Matter?

There are raging debates over using pen, paper and whiteboards to track agile projects versus a software tool. The agile purists eschew automation and rely on simple, manual implements. I admit to being a computer advocate. If it was up to me, pens and paper would be banned. But it’s not about what I like. […]

Agile Is Better, But Not Faster

Companies often turn to agile software development in an effort to reduce time to market. Short iterations, frequent deliveries, integrated testing — sounds nimble and fast — right? Not quite. Agile development,when done properly, has a relentless focus on the customer, teamwork, quality and continuous improvement. There is no goal to deliver a final product […]

Good Process Is Not Good Enough

There is much discussion about how to build software right. Agile techniques help in getting the software right. But are a good process and a good result good enough? Are you building the right software? I’m a big fan of risk management and prioritized feature lists but they are not enough. You need to understand […]

Project Deadlines Are Targets Not Absolutes

The practice of senior management selecting a deadline and telling the project team to meet it lives on. It’s frustrating for all of us but there are many good reasons for this approach. Big companies have many facets to their businesses and coordinating all the activities toward a common end date is as tough as […]

Agile Is Widely Misunderstood

Agile software development offers great promise. Agile techniques are simple, team-oriented and low-overhead. Too good to pass up, right? Not so fast. Software development is risky business. There are no panaceas and no guarantees. In an enterprise environment, you will still need project managers to control chaos, manage risk, deflect interruptions, and resolve issues. So […]

Large-Scale Distributed Agile Is Tough

We generally think of agile development teams as being 5-7 people. That’s fine but it’s hard to build a major enterprise application in any reasonable time frame with such a small group. You can create multiple small teams and face the challenge of coordinating them. Now add the additional complication of not having all the […]

Successful Agile Teams Are Focused

Completing any software project successfully is not easy, regardless of the methodology you follow. One critical success factor is focus. The team must be able to answer the following questions without hesitation: What is the goal of the project? Who is the target audience? What is out of scope? Simple questions? It may seem so […]

The State of Agile

Enterprise Adoption of Agile Development Will Not Be Easy Agile software development is going mainstream. It has arrived in major corporations across the globe along with high expectations. This sets up the inevitable – a fall from grace. My time in the software business is measured in decades not years. I’ve seen many solutions to […]