Thursday, July 6, 2006

Data Agility Survey

Claire Lubienski, who has very graciously given her time for agile conferences and user groups in the past, is coordinating a survey of agile method adoption in Australia. Her request for participants is below - please help out if you can.

Data Agility is surveying Australian organisations' adoption of agile methods for software development. We are looking for survey participants from organisations that have tried—successfully or otherwise—to undertake some agile software development. Target organisations are one of:

  • public or private sector organisations that have a significant IT function

  • organisations that develop software for commercial gain.

We would like to interview people close to the agile project or software development team that also have a perspective across their organisation beyond the project or development team. This is most likely to be the project manager or development manager. Depending on the organisation, access to a chief architect, business owner or project sponsor may be appropriate. The survey is focussed on subject matter such as methods and tools used, project management, team and culture impacts rather than technical details associated with the solution delivery.

Participants will be able to learn from other organisations' experiences with implementing agile and will be given pre-release versions of the survey findings. Survey interviews will be conducted by Claire Lubienski, a senior consultant who has 20 years' business and IT project management experience including with organisations implementing agile methods.

Participation in the survey can be anonymous: client and commercial confidentiality will be respected.

Please contact Claire on or her mobile +61 (412) 205 418 if you would like to participate or know of a suitable candidate participant that she can get in touch with.

Why not be a consultant?

I realise that I left a few things out of last week's post on being a consultant - the main reasons why you wouldn't want to be a consultant!

The obvious one is that there's no assurance you can find the amount of work that you want, at the rate that you want. This was certainly an issue for me back in 2001-2003, just after I'd come back to Australia. I'd promised myself that I would only work with agile development teams, and back then that really meant either training or consulting, since there were few (if any) agile teams on the ground in Australia. Thoughtworks was about the only option, but it was a small business and Derek rtgacould only afford to hire one more person. Forced to choose between a sales person and me, he (rightly) chose the salesperson. Quite a contrast to today!

At the moment I don't think there is any shortage of work, but even I have my moments of doubt. I think that reflects my lack of confidence, even though that doesn't really stand up to rational analysis very well - your own psychology is an important part of whether to be a consultant or not! You should also bear in mind that it's never true that "there's no work" - the worst that statement means is that "there's no work at the rate I want to charge", since you can do as much open source development as you like *s*. Being the mathematician part of me to the surface for a few minutes, it's clear that there are two extreme points where you don't earn any money - 100% employment at $0 per hour, and 0% employment at $10,000 per hour (if your reading this blog, the upper limit probably applies to you as well). In between there's a function with non-zero values and your job, from an economic perspective, is to find the rate per hour that maximises your total income. If we knew what the function was, it would be a simple optimisation exercise. I think that I tend to set my rates too low, since I don't like people saying "no" to me - that's another weakness. If you're a potential client reading this, know that I'm trying to get better at that!

The other reason you might not want to be a consultant is that in principle employees should be getting the best work ahead of you - that should be one of the benefits of the employer-employee relationship. You'll be brought in when you have a particular skill set, usually not when the client already has someone who could do the job. Sometimes you're brought in to meet a temporary need for more staff, in which case you'll almost certainly get the less attractive work, but for me that's less common.

Although I'm trying to blog at least once a week, there probably won't be anything from me for a few weeks, as I need to take some leave.