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Agile Project Management

Cutting-edge Agile methodologies, software development techniques and project management practices.

 
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When you read technology news, security (or lack thereof) dominates many of the headlines. When you scan the titles of talks at Agile conferences, or you skim blog posts about Agile, you don’t see as much discussion about security. Agilists aren’t indifferent to security, but there are few clear guidelines for how to incorporate security into Agile practices. Fortunately, the ways to address security within Agile practices are not too hard, but as with anything related to security, the earlier you deal with it, the better. Security often fits into the work of an Agile team in the following ways: Tasks needed to implement a story. Security often appears within implementation tasks (“When I write …

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Abandon Distribution in Pursuit of Collaborative Invention

Imagine you are responsible for a production plant. Let’s assume it’s a plant that produces a few hundred cars per day. Now you hire a new consultant who promises to reduce your cost by a factor of four. He issues some policies and makes some changes to your production process and, alas, after five months your cost really drops down to half. This was not really what he had promised, but it’s still quite impressive, isn’t it? However, you also observe some other changes. The staff becomes quite upset, and you sense a steep increase in people quitting due to burnout. The customer complaints rise steeply for a significant lack of quality. And the plant’s …

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Talking About Value Instead Of Requirements

Words shape thoughts. The word “requirements” has limited software professionals to a very narrow set of information about the value they produce. In the end, we’re supposed to be delivering software value, which is a much broader, more ongoing conversation than the content you create just before working on the code. While a switch to user stories helps start this transition away from traditional requirements, that’s only a step. How do we understand what capabilities will help the customer? Do we understand the customer at all? What hypotheses are we posing about the value of adopted software? How do we test these hypotheses, so we can make adjustments, if the software isn’t providing perceived value, …

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2015: Align Organizational Structures with Agile Practices

The appetite for risk is all but gone. Enterprises aren’t allowing the luxury of “seeing where the chips fall”. The need for predictability will dominate over some of the agile idealism of allowing things to emerge. Balancing this insatiable need for predictability with the agile culture will require enterprises to become much more self-critical about how they operate.  2015 will be about alignment. Users of agile practices are maturing. Enterprises are learning more and more that agile practices aren’t just for development teams alone. In 2014 we saw a broader shift among large enterprises’ thinking about how they’re going about taking advantage of agile. Many more of these companies realized that agile practices at the …

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2015: The Year of Agile Data Warehousing

2015 will be the year that agile data warehouse (DW)/business intelligence (BI) takes off.  Traditional strategies for DW/BI have been challenged at best, with the running joke being that a DW/BI team will build the first release and nobody will come. On average, Agile strategies provide better time to market, improved stakeholder satisfaction, greater levels of quality, and better return on investment (ROI) than do traditional strategies. The DW/BI community has finally started to accept this reality, and it is now starting to shift gears and adopt agile ways of working. My expectation is that 2015 will see a plethora of books, case studies, and blog postings describing people’s experiences in this area. There are …

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Use Agile To Steer The Post-Sony Security Stampede

The embarrassing hack of Sony’s corporate information, followed by the company’s decision not to release The Interview because of vague online threats, has already resulted in a lot of hand-wringing about how secure corporate information is, and whether companies have done all they can to secure it to the utmost. Owners, shareholders, customers, and partners will want to relieve that anxiety, so 2015 may be the year of a lot of impromptu security projects. Given the scale of the urgency and unknowns, coupled with the potential for a lot of unintended business consequences, 2015 may be the year that many IT departments consider a more Agile approach to security. The worst response to the Sony …

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Figuring Out What A Scaled Agile Framework Really Means

The only thing that seems larger than the recent enthusiasm over scaled Agile frameworks is the vitriolic arguments over what they really do. The confusion lies in the word “framework,” which is a much looser concept than “methodology.” While there are significant differences among teams (for example, in how co-located all the members are), it’s easy to imagine them cleaving to roughly the same set of principles and practices. The differences among organizations — their size, culture, history, types of projects or products, governance rules, relations with the business, etc. — are too great to impose anything nearly as formulaic as the disciplines adopted at a team level. (And, of course, the variances among teams …

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A New Kind of Software Development Framework

A good way to make predictions is to recognize current trends and then extrapolate them into the future. The longer the trends, the more confident you can be about the predictions. Thinking about software development processes, we see two long-term paths that software development has taken. These paths are the basis of both our joint prediction for the coming year and the kind of holistic consulting we will focus on in 2015. The path some have taken has been moving from one lifecycle process to another, each containing a set of prescribed practices. These, in rough order, are waterfall, spiral, controlled iteration/RUP, Xtreme Programing, Agile, and DevOps. We may have missed one or two, plus …

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Nov 242014
 
What really is an MVP?

In his highly influential book, The Lean Startup, Eric Ries introduced term “minimal viable product” (MVP). As Ries rightly points out, firms putting out new products typically spend too much time and money on features that miss the mark somehow in meeting customer needs or are simply unnecessary. The result is a delayed over-expensive product that is more likely than not an economic failure. Reese proposes a better alternative: put out the least function (minimal) product that you can that might meet customer needs or at least will draw customer attention (viable). This way the team can test the market with different feature sets, get customer feedback, and commit development resources to the expensive activity …

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If you only adopt one practice of Agile, adopt retrospectives. The rest will emerge from that. This is old wisdom among Agilists, and back in the early 2000s, Cutter Senior Consultant Alistair Cockburn boiled down his Crystal Clear method to “Iterate and Reflect.” I thought everything of interest had already been written on this topic — until I was involved recently in a mostly failed transition during which this was a major topic. Looking at leadership models, you find the concept of post-heroic leadership where the heroic leader solves problems by either being the expert him or herself, or an “achiever” who pushes others to solve the problem. The post-heroic leader works by providing the …

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