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Agile Project Management

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

Jul 092012
 
Test-Driven Business

Change used to be viewed, experienced and managed as a discontinuous phenomenon. A period of change was typically followed by a period of stability. Moreover, the general expectation was that the period of stability would last a much longer time than the time it took to assimilate change. Change nowadays is becoming continuous. Various Cutter Consortium clients deploy code dozens of times a day. Companies like Wisemarkit enable you to “open a shop in 60 seconds and fill it with products you believe in.” When new features are deployed every hour and e-shops can be formed on the fly, periods of stability in which you can catch your breath have for most practical purposes vanished. …

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Prior to the advent of agile methods, planned methods had characterized software development. An important focus of these planned methods was to get all of the requirements up front. Furthermore, there was a fervid attempt to get the requirements correct and complete before proceeding to the next stage of development. The unreal assumption that correct and complete requirements would remain so while the solution was developed turned out to be the bane of planned software development methods. It was impossible to get the requirements completed up front, as the business reality kept changing and users could not have known them earlier in the lifecycle. As it turns out, it was not even necessary to capture …

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Products and processes are two of the most vital components of a successful business. Useful, relevant, or innovative products are important for attracting and keeping customers. Efficient and effective processes are crucial to making the customer experience enjoyable and worthwhile. Product and process should therefore be included as key components in any business architecture. But, too often, product and process are not given the architectural priority they deserve. While physical products such as cars or planes are highly engineered, enterprise architects tend to overlook the architecture of information-based products and view them instead as the domain of business managers. (Note that physical products, such as the engineering of cars or computers, are more likely to …

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Big Agile is “agile as far as the eye can see.” It is not “one Big Agile organization.” The distinction becomes clear when you consider the context of size: team versus whole organization. While it is certainly possible, and desirable, for a company as a whole to be influenced by agile practices and principles, that doesn’t mean that agile alone can make a whole company move more quickly and easily. Agile, as both a theory of management and of software engineering, is tuned very well for one to several teams of individuals working closely together. Beyond that scale, agile alone won’t address all organizational challenges — no agile transformation initiative alone could do so. Solving …

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Keeping the Innovation in Agile

Quite a few clients report that agile is anti-innovation. The developers have a vested interest in developing whatever they can produce within the allowable time. They are rewarded for maintaining the velocity of the project, not for their innovative solutions. Note that innovation, as we use the term here, means fresh thinking. We do not mean that innovation is the same as invention — it’s not. Innovation is thinking differently about the business problem with the intention of finding more beneficial things for the business to do. User stories that are not based on real business stories will struggle to be innovative. The user story describes what happens at the interface and is mostly what …

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Agility, Adaptability, and Alignment

It often starts as a seemingly plain training request. Having decided to go the agile route, a client would like Cutter to train a certain number of employees in one agile method or another. We collect data on the demographics of the target population: architects, UI designers, product managers, project managers, developers, testers, and so on. We then move on to discuss the way these folks are geographically dispersed and what the team structure for the launched agile teams will be. Once these parameters have been nailed down, it largely becomes a matter of figuring out the logistics for training and coaching. A fairly straightforward process for rolling out the agile process, one might say. …

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Big, Lean and BSM: Late Night Thoughts on the January 30 "Big Agile" Webinar

Since we announced the forthcoming “Big Agile” webinar (click here for details), I have been exposed to numerous questions and comments about “Big” vis-a-vis “Lean” in the Agile context.  The intensity of some of these discourses was so high that I decided to comment on the subject in advance of the webinar. A lively debate during the webinar is, of course, goodness. In contrast, starting the webinar with a potentially gross misunderstanding as to where we are coming from and where we are heading is not too desirable. In general, “big”, to me, can be “lean”. As a matter of fact, big should be lean as otherwise scale will quite possibly pose a problem. Specifically, …

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It would seem that the devops discussion is mostly driven by development’s incentives, and appropriately so, given developers’ focus on building functionality for the business user. So it’s no surprise that development is the originator of the whole devops lifecycle, but are there any dangers lurking in a one-sided focus on devops issues? A hefty majority of devops articles come from writers of the development persuasion who are motivated by the legitimate frustrations of the application deployment process. The movement to agile development has been a key contributor in the increase of handicaps encountered as a result of more frequent transitions from development to operations IT groups. Online and verbal discussions identify the primary challenge …

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Recession on the Horizon; Invest in Agile

Given the current interest rate situation and demand for US currency, the US will see much more business expansion through 2013. Once the world realizes we are not really any better off than Greece (in terms of debt/GDP), we’ll see inflation, business retraction and possible recession. Companies interested in surviving the 2013 – 2018 recession would be wise to invest in going Agile as soon as possible and holding the cash they save in the process to buy out those companies that weren’t so smart. [Editor’s Note: This post is part of the annual “Cutter Predicts …“ series, compiled at the Cutter Consortium website.]

 
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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