Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Are you ready for Agile?

Paul Klipp, a guest author at Agile Advice (one of my favorite blogs on Agile), poses a question to those thinking about Agile with his post entitled, "To be or not be Agile". Here's his introduction:

At it's core, an agile process is designed to address a long-standing problem with traditional development methods: scope-creep. Most traditional processes begin with a thorough description of the desired product and then code until it's done. The weakness of these approaches is that in the event of a change in the business need or a reevaluation of the plan, much work can be lost and deadlines can easily slip out of control, and costs with them. The traditional way to address this problem is with change documents. A change document basically is a way of telling the customer what it will cost to make a change to the plan after development is underway. Agile processes are designed to do away with the cost of change so that the client is free to evolve the system under construction toward the ideal end goal, even if it is a moving target.

He further gets down the heart and soul of agile with this statement:

The beauty of iterative development combined with continuous integration is that if we approach a piece of software with the intention of working until all features are done (traditional approach), then at no point in the project is there usable code except at the end. Whereas with iterative development, the client can pull the plug at any time and have a working product, even if not fully-featured. For example, halfway through a large, waterfall or RAD (Rapid Application Development) style project we might have had a working administrative interface but not working user interface, or no user authentication system; in other words, a fundamentally flawed and unusable product. Halfway through an agile Project (at the end of any iteration) we have a product which, though lacking some intended features, actually had all the essential components of a software tool finished, tested, and ready to deploy if desired. The customer is not married to the project and the developers can't hold the project hostage until the bitter end; If it concludes early, the investment is not a sunk cost.

So, are you ready to be agile or not? Read more of his post to decide.

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