Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Are we there (agile) yet?

I get asked this a lot, and let me say that I personally don't care very much. I do care whether or not the development process is effective or not, and mostly you know the answer to that before you ask me. But if I needed to form an independent opinion here are some questions that I'd ask you about feedback cycles. The underlying assumption is that a team will almost continually make mistakes (that vary dramatically in size) and that a lot of our practices and processes are about exposing those mistakes as quickly as possible. So how long is it between the these mistakes and the practice/process/activity that will expose that mistake, and how do you make that period smaller? These questions aren't presented in any particular order.

  • A feature doesn't add any value

  • Our code is unmaintainable

  • We have duplicate code (or other quality problems)

  • A developer introduces a new defect

  • We've broken an existing feature

  • What we're building doesn't match what was expected

  • A feature is costing too much to be worth implementing

  • A feature is unusable

  • A feature works in isolation but not when integrated with other features

  • The entire project is costing too much

  • The project is going to cost too much

In addition, how long from a the time a feature is requested to the time that it hits production?

There are certainly other things that can go wrong with a project, but I think that reducing feedback cycle duration (time between event and feedback on the event) requires applying many agile principles and practices.

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