Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Prerequisites for IID

Up to now, I have figured out that teams trying to behave agile sometimes fall into the cave of pretending to be agile (e.g. stand up meetings and less than just enough planning and short iterations so on!). Often, when this pretending takes places for days, it creates a illusion on the minds of the people that they might be doing the "right thing". And all on a sudden, someone discovers things are breaking and there is no way out of this disaster!

So, I suggest for teams who are trying to get agile to meet the following prerequisites first-

1. Team members must have a certain level of all-round skills.

So, when we do not preserve seats for requirements gathering, planning and designing and still want a good architected software, we need to make sure we are not asking beyond the capacity of one team member. From my experiences I have found that, even a very good communicating team with enough of discussions and reviews cannot control the quality and integrity of the product when some of the fellows don't meet the all-round skill requirements.

So, an agile team is expected to meet all-round individual skills like
a. Database design concept.
b. Object Oriented design concept (must know about design patterns (e.g. from GoF) and design principles)
c. Standard Coding expertise.
d. Testing sense and writing effective test codes.
e. Understanding the business domain clearly and concisely.
f. Quickly respond to change requests and define effective way to meet system owner's demands.

2. An "agile" skilled team must practice the following

a. Effective Design and design reviews.
b. Good coding at the very first time (if possible).
c. Must write test/guard codes for automated testing.
d. Continuous and periodically re-factorization of the code base and architecture.
d. Some sort of mentoring to make sure things are in rhythm.

3. An "agile" skilled team must use appropriate tools for the "best practices"

a. Use smart collaboration tool to make sure all the stakeholders are on the same ground.
b. Use effective test suits.
c. Version management system.
d. Automated build system and continuous integrations.
e. Project management and time tracking software.

I will try to get more subjective on each of the items mentioned above in my upcoming posts.

Two Aspects of Agile Software Development Process

I have been in practice with the famous agile software development process called "Scrum" for more than a year. I have had the opportunity to see a SCRUM team developing from scratch in a completely start-up environment.

I will point to the two aspects as,
1. Management aspects.
2. Technical aspects.

1. Management aspects
I encapsulate the things like working on a story by story basis, standing up for daily status update meeting, producing deliveries in short iterations and without much of prior planning into this group. I believe this aspect heavily depends on the way the second aspect is handled.

2. Technical aspects
Technical aspects encapsulate the practice of Test Driven Development, continuous and periodic Refactoring and other hard core technical things like this. Despite the truth that, this aspect is not the much anticipated by the client, being "Agile" there is no alternative to achieve what is anticipated, "Business value", without this.

Developing Software falls into the category of craftsmanship. So, its hard to define the line and expect the players to stop on a referee's whistle. With agility, developers are free to add their creative inputs to the software design and code base. So, without attention to the technical aspects may lead to a process of "Iterative Incrementation Destruction" instead of "Iterative Incremental Develeopment".

In subsequent posts I will try to come up with actual examples in favor of first making the "techi" things right.

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