Month: June 2011

Software Engineering Is Chaotic, and That’s Good

Do people really matter? If you have a strong enough process in place, does it make any real difference who you have execute it? Couldn’t you just invest a lot of time defining and documenting a structured and disciplined, software engineering process, then hire cheap labor to follow it? Many companies in various retail service […]

Project Suicide: A Preventable Outcome

Many software projects commit suicide. How? Here are a few gruesome ways. Not enough calendar time is allocated. High-quality software takes time. Throwing lots of people at the problem may get the project done faster but there will be many rough edges in the final software. Will customers accept that? The team is understaffed. This […]

The Development Approach Has to Fit the Situation

There are many passionate debates around the web on the subject of waterfall development versus one agile approach or another (e.g. Scrum, Kanban, Lean or XP). Most of those debaters are wrong. All wrong. There is a fatal flaw in their logic. What is it? I’ll get to that. Firstly, what is waterfall software development? […]

Projects in Trouble Tend to Stay in Trouble

Here’s the dilemma: Your Scrum team is nearing the end of a Sprint or a release cycle and they have experienced some unforeseen problems. Completing all the planned items appears unlikely. The final build will be deployed for end-user testing so there will be plenty of attention and feedback. You’re left with two choices: Rush […]

Agile Approaches Are Not Just for Product Development

There’s an impression among some software developers that agile approaches like Scrum, Kanban, Lean and XP only apply to software products, not other types of software. That impression likely results from naming conventions such as “Product Owner”, “Product Backlog”, “Releases” and “User Stories”. While many of us associate software with desktop applications, there are many […]

Software: Is It ‘Beta’ or Is It Junk?

Google seems to have started a trend that is growing worse. Google has a history of releasing software labelled “beta”. The beta tag indicates that the software is not yet complete — missing features, increased likelihood of defects, and general usability issues. The beta tag also provides an easy out. If users complain, simply remind […]

If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Be Agile

Applying metrics to agile projects is a controversial topic. Much of the controversy stems from the nature of agile development. Agile approaches are intended to be flexible and responsive. Metrics seem to imply rigid goals and expectations. Fortunately, that does not have to be the case. Metrics can be valuable tools as long as they […]

To Be More Agile, Reduce the Abstractions

Here’s a scenario…your organization decides to implement an agile approach to software development. It could be Scrum, Kanban, Lean, XP, etc. — doesn’t matter. The basics are implemented — small teams, product owners, stories, backlogs, daily meetings, retrospectives, etc. These are all good steps to take but they don’t magically make an organization agile. True […]

Themes Offer More Value Than You Think

I’m sure you’ve heard that when doing agile development, your team should start with themes (high-level objectives) and develop epics (high-level stories) that support the themes. The epics go into the product backlog. Later on, the epics will be split into small stories and then tasks suitable for implementation. Just as epics can be broken […]

Top 200 Agile Blogs at

If you follow activity in the agile software development community, you’ve likely heard of The website is owned and operated by Peter Saddington. Peter is an independent agile coach and AgileScout is a news site for all things related to agile software development. I’m telling you this because Peter has published a list of […]

A Tale of a Rigid PMO and How We Prevailed

Never under-estimate the ability of people to find ways around the waterfall project, command-and-control structure. Here’s a real, personal story. We’re working on a project to make several upgrades to a large database. It’s about a two-month effort. The PMO (Project Management Office) forces us to follow a rigid waterfall process despite my complaints and […]

Don’t Just Try Something New, Embrace it

I’ve helped many clients, prospects and coworkers solve difficult problems over the years. Often the contact person articulates a problem. I ask open-ended questions to draw out more information. After some back and forth, I offer a concept or two that might help. Sometimes, the response is along the lines of “We tried that and […]

Without Context, You Can’t Make an Informed Decision

What’s more important, project management or system engineering? Let’s see. Can a group of project managers build a software system without any engineers? No. Can a group of engineers build a software system without any project managers? Yes. That settles it. Engineers are more important than project managers. But wait! I hope you know that […]