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Showing posts from October, 2008

Towards Agile Talking Points [was: Towards an Agile Litmus Test]

Last week, I published a poll which tried to identify criteria for an agile litmus test.  I wanted some talking points to complement the Nokia test as I start to coach a new agile project. There seem to be strong feelings against testing. The inquiry generated little enthusiasm on dzone, whereas Michael's criticism of these tests came up strongly positive.

As I started the above mentioned project, I discovered that the questions I proposed were not that helpful.  The real problems become obvious very quickly as I watched the team do its sprint retrospective and sprint planning. Reacting to what I see is more important than doing an academic evaluation.

As I write this article, 8 people have voted on the poll. Not exactly the wisdom of crowds, but you can get an idea of what people consider important. Here are the top vote getters:
Colocated: Is the team colocated? - 8
User Stories: Do you define the product in terms of user stories? - 8Releases: Have you delivered running, tested, …

Towards an Agile RFP

Yesterday I attended an open space session at the Stockholm Scrum Gathering on Agile Contracting. My work on creating an Agile Request for Proposal fell on very interested ears. So as promised, here an overview on the series on planning big agile projects, which concludes with the sub-series on the Agile RFP:
How to get your agile project approved
The Big Development Project: How much should it cost?Creating the Scrum Product Backlog: Start with the Users!Filling the Product Backlog: Go For ExcitementPrioritizing the Product Backlog The articles on the RFP process -- Finding a Partner to Trust -- are the last three in the series:
Using Scrum to Create an Agile RFPContents of the Agile RFP to Outsource a SW Development ProjectsUsing Competitive Sprints to find a SW Developer

Quick Poll: A Litmus Test for Agile Development

This summer, I asked how many teams are doing Scrum according to the minimal definitions of the Nokia Test. 74% of Scrum Teams responding are doing what Jeff Sutherland now calls Scrum-Butt - "we're doing Scrum, but for some reason, we can't do all of Scrum." According to Jeff, even Scrum-Butt companies may improve their revenue, but those who go beyond Scrum-Butt do much better financially than those who accept dysfunctions. Jeff has extended the Nokia test to identify the factors which help companies achieve this "hyper-productive" state.

Most of my clients are not yet ready to extend the envelope. They are trying to achieve the basics of good agile management and development. For these companies, the Nokia test is a good place to start, an early milestone, but not the final goal. (BTW - Alistair Cockburn's 7 Crystal Properties also look like a good starting point, and some of his points are raised in the candidate list below).

The next question is h…

Are there really situations for which agile is unsuitable

Last Wednesday, Dani Tobler of Zühlke gave his take on the virtues of agile and non-agile (i.e. RUP) approaches to product management.

Dani brings his experience developing embedded software and teaching students at a "Fachhochschule" (Technical University) to the table. Applications for which electronics, mechanics and software all play are role. Incremental releases and feature driven development seem less natural to the world of embedded systems.

An interesting analogy: Project planning compared to mountain climbing. If you are trying to climb Mount Everest, you plan, staff and budget quite differently than if you are planning family trip to nearest park (in our case, the Uetliberg). So the approach to large SW Project might/could/should be different than for small projects.

He presented decision criteria which Zühlke used to use for deciding whether Agile was appropriate:  Size, Criticality, Team Skills, Change and Culture. And proceeded to debunk all of them. Only two ca…