Category

Agile Project Management

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

 
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 …

Read more

 
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 …

Read more

 
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 …

Read more

 
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 …

Read more

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 …

Read more

 
avatar

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 …

Read more

 
avatar

Every historical era has its lessons, such as Don’t trust totalitarian dictators to respect diplomatic niceties, Avoid land wars in Asia, and You know what’s going to happen to Sean Bean in this movie. One of the lessons of the last decade is certainly Information is not intelligence. Unfortunately, many people who do software requirements, or depend on them to build and test software, have not seen the relevance of that maxim in their own work. Requirements in software development serve much the same purpose as intelligence in national security: they are supposed to provide actionable, reliable insights. “Actionable” is largely a question of format, which software professionals can control directly. Older questions like, What …

Read more

 
From Information Risk Management to BI for Software Organizations to Agile Transitions, We’ve Got You Covered.

We’ve been rounding up Dennises lately: Dennis Adams and Dennis Hogarth have joined our team of expert consultants. But along with the Dennises, we welcome Nancy Williams, Murray Cantor and Don MacIntyre. Dennis Adams is a long time Cutter contributor. He’s frequently presented the academic viewpoint for Cutter Benchmark Review. (If you’re not familiar with CBR, it partners academics and practitioners who co-write a survey, analyze the data, and then write opinion pieces — influenced by their academic/practitioner perspective — that are based on the findings. Looking at an issue or technology from both an academic and practical perspective gives CBR readers the 360 view they won’t otherwise see.) Now Dennis will add his expertise …

Read more

 
avatar

Every once in a while, you run into an individual or an organization with an acutely mechanistic view of software development processes. “Mechanistic,” in this context, means that processes are like machines: you wind them up and let them go. As long as they continue to operate, good things will result. This misconception echoes a similar view of political systems that is alternately harmless and dangerous. In “The Place Of The Independent In Politics,” James Russell Lowell warned that too many Americans had lapsed into a view of the Constitution that it was a “machine that would go if itself.” “I admire the splendid complacency of my countrymen,” Lowell said, “and find something exhilarating and …

Read more

 
avatar

In a recent post, I talked about the value of playing a game about Agile portfolio management. The game showed how, over time, stable Agile teams are more productive than ad hoc teams of even the highest performers. As a result, Agile turns on its head the way many people look at portfolio management: rather than feeding teams to projects, portfolio management should feed projects to teams. This example shows one of the many virtues of serious games, their ability to help us make sense of important principles about the operation of systems. Our brains struggle with systems thinking, so anything that can help us move beyond our cognitive limitations is a good thing. Some …

Read more