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Agile Project Management

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

 
Get up close & personal with our Agile team

Immerse yourself in Agile on day three of Cutter Consortium’s Summit: Executive Education+, 2-4 April 2012. You’ll find out how Agile, the software method that was conceived as a way to cope with change, is changing, how these changes can benefit your organization — and what you need to do to make that happen. Agile practice director Israel Gat has assembled an impressive team of Cutter consultants to present, including: Patrick Debois: What Leaders Need to Know About Devops Jim Sutton: Reclaiming Business Glory through the Lean Worldview Hubert Smits: Want to be Radical? Here’s How and Israel himself: Agile 2.0: Change is Changing! Limited-time Registration Savings Like 2011, our best offers for Summit 2012 …

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An Ever-Growing Focus on Value, Quality and Innovation

Last year I predicted that 2011 was to be the beginning of a shift from a focus on quality, schedule, and budget to value, quality, and innovation. Presentations at diverse conferences around the world show that there is an increasing interest in value and quality, and to some extent, innovation, too. The interest in value and quality was boosted in part by Jim Highsmith’s Agile Triangle (see Jim’s webinar Measuring Agile Performance: Beyond Scope, Schedule and Cost Webinar and his book Agile Project Management, 2nd Edition). A few months after Jim’s book came out in 2010, I published the first version of the Lean–Agile Prism in the Agile Journal, where I added design as a …

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Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Last year, my colleagues and I predicted various changes: an increase in this, a let-up in that. I finally understand why I have been struggling to come up with my 2012 prediction: I am just not seeing any changes. Let me elaborate on this for my specialty — Agile/Lean software development. I predict that many organizations worldwide will continue to adopt Agile. Most of them will do so with no expert guidance, with ho-hum results, and with little understanding of why they got those results. People will continue to get their Agile skills certified while others rail against the value and implication of those certificates. Companies will still rely on head hunters to hire Agile …

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A Healthy Skepticism of "Named" Approaches

I see the demand for actual performance results over declarative symbolic victories (e.g., certifications) taking a significant bend upwards. I’ve already begun to see the more forward-thinking companies maturing in their thinking about how they use “named” business, technology, and management concepts, e.g., Scrum, Lean, Kanban, CMMI, ISO 9000, ITIL, COBIT, Devops, etc. There’s growing skepticism in the efficacy of popularized approaches. Executives are less likely to rush into using new ideas just because they’ve heard “the name”. Whether they’re skeptical for the right reasons or not, their cautious approach offers a better have a chance of implementing these “named” initiatives effectively, keeping them off their list of failures – a list that contributes to …

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Nov 252011
 
Code Does Not Hype

It is the story of my adult life. A VC dispatches me to some city to perform due diligence on a company he/she contemplates investing in. Upon arrival I meet the “reception committee.” It usually includes the CEO, the CTO and the CMO. Nine times out of ten the folks on the committee are intelligent, knowledgeable and accomplished. Moreover, they do their very best to charm me. I still remember the reception committee from the due diligence on Tideway I did for Apax Partners some seven years ago. The folks were awesome. I am fairly certain they could convince birds to fly off the tree if they chose to apply their very many talents toward …

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Over the past twelve months, many diverse organizations worldwide have benefited from Cutter Consortium’s considerable expertise in conducting technical debt assessments. According to our experts Israel Gat and Chris Sterling, many of the findings and recommendations made during these engagements are broadly applicable in concept. The new Executive Update “Delving into Technical Debt” explores the considerations that most organizations go through while devising a technical debt reduction strategy. (You can register and download a complimentary copy of this 11-page report using promotion code DELVING.) From typical opportunities that arise during a technical debt assessment to common areas that need improvement, and from creating a technical debt mitigation strategy to leveraging the open source software quality …

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Nov 012011
 
Half-Life Metrics

“Gaming the system” is the kind of phenomenon that makes pedantic software development managers end their careers in mental asylums. A metric is introduced in order to achieve a certain outcome. To enhance the prospects of achieving the desired outcome, individuals and/or teams are compensated on the measured value of the metric. Over time they learn how to “game it”; that is, skillfully improving the measured value irrespective of whether or not such improvements still are in good accord with the desired outcome. The means (i.e., the measured value of the metric) becomes the end. “Gaming it” manifests itself as failure over time of the measured performance to fully represent actual performance. For example, a …

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The Runway of Software Products

In her October 4, 2011 HBS blog post Can HP Change its DNA?, Judith Hurwitz contrasts corporate DNA for hardware versus DNA for software, as follows: The DNA that has been in HP’s bones from the start is all about excellence in hardware engineering…. With hardware markets, money is spent upfront to develop a system. However, once that product is launched, revenue streams in quickly and evenly. .. By contrast, when software is delivered to the market, it may take a year or even several years before it becomes a well-accepted and profitable endeavor… This is what I’ve observed at HP. As it has tried to invest in software, again and again it has killed products off before …

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Sep 302011
 
A Seven Year Retrospective

I felt like a psychiatrist in October 2004. An endless stream of strangers was coming to my office to complain about the software I was responsible for. I did not need to ask the classic question “How did you feel about the software bug?!” – I was proactively advised how the person calling upon me – every person! – felt about it… Some actually reverted to Hebrew (my native tongue) in order to make doubly certain I did not miss any nuance of their disappointment, dismay, despair, anger, anxiety and anguish. The only saving grace I had was that I have just been hired to turn the product around. It was a little difficult to implicate me …

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Sep 292011
 
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Innovation is part of the curriculum in just about any Agile engagement I carry out for Cutter. To my way of thinking, the linkage between Agile and innovation is straightforward. Agile enables affordable experimentation. Experimentation begets discovery. Discovery is the first step toward innovation. Just about everyone of my clients responds heartily to this simple-minded derivation, and for a very good reason. Clients crave innovation as it gives them competitive advantage through the life cycle of the product. Hence, enhancing innovation is a very appealing message. I still have to meet a client who would say “well, you know, our problem is too much innovation…” Short-term engagement do not usually give me the opportunity to …

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