Custom Application Development

Oct 3 2007   9:49PM GMT

It’s Not Easy to be Agile

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

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Paragraph 3 of the “Agile Manifesto” states this principle:

“Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale”

Living up to this principle is no trivial task, not even for a team of developers!  I wonder how many really do, and what kind of project are they working on?  Doesn’t it seem like there are always new issues to deal with?  What about getting time to keep up with the latest and greatest available tools of our trade?  When does this happen?

For many of us I believe that things like learning the “latest and greatest” occurs off-hours, if at all.  This off-hours “work” is frought with danger of course — danger of burning out, danger of destroying relationships — to name just a couple.  Yet, in the IT software development field, knowledge of current and developing trends in development tools can be critical.

Choosing the right tools for a job very often becomes not really a choice, but rather a continuing well-worn journey down the path often traveled, almost by rote.  We are fortunate to be working IT software development at this time.  New tools are coming along constantly, and being updated along the way.  I must admit, I’ve been known to get frustrated because (it seems) I just get comfortable with my development tool of choice, and here comes a “new” version — and there are always “things” to learn — but I get over it.

As for being “Agile” and delivering frequently — I firmly believe that what allows us to even think about living up to that principle is the toolset that we choose for development.  Remember Cobol and how long even some of the most simple things took to create?  We’ve come a long way — and choosing the development toolset for your application is critical in your quest to be “Agile”. 

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  • LadyRatri
    I've been working on long-term "Agile" projects for almost a year. I agree that the choice of tools has a large influence on ability to deliver working software quickly. Other overwhelming factors in my experience have been one-man bottlenecks on a team. Every project has required skillsets to get a functional requirement through design, development, testing and released to an audience of users. When my teams have had problems delivering, it's often due to a required skillset posessed by only one member of the team. Most often, this came down to UI design or technical QA tasks. Part of the team being "Agile" is each member being agile -- lower case 'a'. The ideal seems to require a whole team of jack-of-all-trade tech superstars. To speak to your remarks about the "latest and greatest" technologies -- I think this is more an issue of convincing the business, or whoever "owns" your agile project, that small amounts of research budgeted in throughout a project can bring significant rewards in terms of getting these newer technologies involved when and where they are needed. Then, rather than working outside of your planned tasks, this research into new technologies becomes another task that someone does during each development cycle of the project. My current project has delivered working new functionality every 3 weeks since mid July. And you're right -- It most definately hasn't been easy. After each release, we've discussed improvements to our process and our planning to make these iterations go more smoothly. But, we have a working product out to the public and are providing a constant stream of small improvements and new functionality, as well as maintaining the ability to respond to the suggestions and feedback of our users.
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