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Agile Software Development and Governance

Today, Pierre Neis journeyed down from Luxembourg to talk to us about Agile and Project Governance. He talked about a 2-team Scrum project he had coached for a large organization and how that project tracking was integrated into their corporate governance tools. He then talked about a flavor of earned value management 'Agile-EVM' which he applied to the project.

EVM strikes me as an oxymoron: an inherent contradiction, like 'military intelligence' or 'serious play'. EVM was created to track the creation of value vs the accumulation of costs. A series of indexes get reduced down to a green/amber/red traffic light which indicates whether the project is on track or not.

The only trouble is, a waterfall project does not produce any customer value until the test phase is complete. So the EVM concept is meaningless when applied to a waterfall project.

The situation is quite different when applied to an agile project. A Scrum project produces finished functionality, i.e. value, every sprint. The product burn down chart compares the progress to the plan. Since the product owner can change the remaining scope after every sprint, traffic lights produce by Agile-EVM mean
  • Green: Plan and Progress are in sync
  • Amber: Plan and Progress are diverging
  • Red: A serious reality check is necessary.
In the discussion, we talked about the lack of Quality figuring into the calculation. If you have poor quality, this will be higher maintenance costs and must worse development performance in the future.

The big open question: How to integrate a Net Present Value calculation of the impact poor quality into the financial indicators of the project?

Download: His slides and the Nokia Test.

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