Agile Project Management

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

Mar 022016
"Agile Management" Vs. Bad Management

Lately, Agilists have been giving the role of middle managers (or possible lack thereof) in Agile transformation a fair amount of attention. While this is a knotty problem, I worry that our polite efforts to re-define the management function might be enabling organizational neuroses and psychoses, instead of helping people address them. Ultimately, we have to use plain language: there are many bad managers out there. Agile exposes their incapacity, and makes delaying the inevitable that much harder. While compiling a complete list of middle management functions might provide some catharsis, this is supposed to be a short blog post. Therefore, I’ll highlight a few that Agile commonly exposes, with the clarity of those photos Read more

Feb 262016

The software engineering field has changed a lot over the years. There have been many advances in the field in terms of tools used, how teams build and test software, the speed of delivery, and so on. For teams that have not yet become a true Agile team (every sprint is developed, tested, and production ready), one pattern continues to show itself even though this pattern is a carry over from the days of large waterfall projects. This pattern is the projection and allocation of budget based on the one-third rule. In the days of large waterfall projects, organizations made the assumption that a software budget was allocated one-third per major category: analysis and design, Read more

Feb 102016

In a recent blog post, Scott Ambler asked whether architects should write code. Actually, the way Scott poses the question, the issue is whether the architect should be a full-time member of the team. While I agree with a lot of what Scott says, there are also a couple of risks worth considering, too. When I started in the software biz, I worked in software companies, not IT departments. In the world I knew, architects were senior developers who played a special role on the team. Their job responsibilities ranged from making strategic technology decisions to mentoring some of the junior developers. There was never a question whether they wrote code: it was part of Read more

Feb 092016
Agile in 2016: Party out of Bounds

For Agilists, 2016 will be a celebratory year. Not only has Agile enjoyed mainstream status for several years now, its success has allowed Agile to become a laboratory for other innovations, from new techniques for ­customer insights to delivery of software as fast as you can produce it. When you join a party where everyone is having the best time imaginable, the last thing on your mind is how annoyed the people next door are, and how happy the people paying for it are. Those are two major considerations for Agile in 2016, which will appear as the not-too-subtle subtext for several ongoing developments. THE AGILE PARTY HAS A BIG PLAYLIST Soon after you walk Read more

Feb 042016

In many engagements, upper and middle management ask: “How do we fix our testing (QC) process? The team is just not catching the defects.” When managers ask this question I usually asked these managers a question in return: “Why focus on fixing your testing processes first; shouldn’t you first focus on fixing the development process, since they write the code?” This usually starts a vigorous discussion about where the problem really lies in the organization, which is exactly the kind of soul searching an organization needs to do when they ask to fix the testing. Fix the Root of the Problem and Not Just the Symptom The objective in asking the question is to get Read more

Jan 262016
Chasing Black Swans Through The Snow

We had a little snow here in Washington, DC on Friday, and we’re still digging out. The great snowstorm of 2016, a.k.a. Snowzilla, was the kind of outlier event that even the most dysfunctional of local governments must be ready to handle. Even if you think that 2-3 feet of snow in a single day is a “black swan” event, you had better have the snow plows and dump trucks ready for that unlikely scenario. Software innovators have a much different attitude about black swans. Rather than prepare their response for them, they usually act as though they will never occur. Sure, you might do everything you can to prevent, say, an unexpected architectural glitch Read more

Jan 152016

Is QA (aka QC) seen as an impediment in your organization? If you answered yes to this question, then chances are your organization is in one of two camps: 1) QA is really an impediment, or 2) QA is actually ensuring that your organization is releasing quality software. QA is Really an Impediment Some organizations still have formal QA departments that execute testing as a separate phase than the development team. While this may be a necessity in some industries due to laws and regulations, for most other organizations where this is not required, it is usually a sign of a QA team that is not ready to change. It is a sign that this Read more