Click here to close now.

Welcome!

AJAX & REA Authors: Robert McNutt, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, VictorOps Blog

Related Topics: Java, XML, SOA & WOA, Open Source, AJAX & REA, Apache

Java: Blog Feed Post

Four Tests to Determine If You Are Following Agile Development

Do you necessarily have to have a small, co-located, cross-functional team to be able to claim that your process is indeed agile

Am I the only person who thinks that we need a clear, well understood and unambiguous determine if the development process that you are following can be classified as Agile development process?

Do you necessarily have to have a small, co-located, cross-functional team to be able to claim that your process is indeed agile? If you go by what agile thought leaders are saying then “small”, “co-located” and “cross-functional” is no longer considered a necessary condition for classifying a process as agile.

Agile 1.1Indeed, the answer to the following questions is no longer an outright no.

  • Can agile process scale to a large team size?
  • Can distributed project team claim to be using agile development?
  • Can off-shored projects work on agile mode?
  • Can agile development co-exist with CMMi?

Obviously, to be able to answer “yes” to these question we would need to come up with a process which different from what you would have followed for a ”small”, “co-located” and “cross-functional” team. Now, how would you determine if this modified process can indeed be classified as a agile development process?

Without suitable tests the discussion would boil down to your opinion pitted against mine.

Can agile projects fail?

Without such a test you can always argue that the project failed because the process chosen was not really an agile development process and that is why the project failed.

Without suitable tests there is no way to counter such an argument.

I prefer “A” over “B” but “B” is also important

I am not criticizing the agile manifesto. It is brilliantly piece of articulation … it conveys, without being explicit, how agile processes are different from the “heavy weight” processes prevailing in 2001.

However, it does not help us in determining when a process can be classified as agile and when it ceases to be agile.

Minimum common denominator

Is it possible to take the popular agile development processes like Scrum, XP and TDD and find out what is common the minimum common denominator and use that as a test?

There are 2 problem to this approach:

  1. Which methodologies would you choose?
  2. Would you find significant commonality?

Selecting list of mandatory practices

There is a growing list of practices which are classified as agile practice – daily stand-up meeting, continuous integration, pair programming … the list is quiet large.

Is it possible to choose from the list a set of mandatory practices – a necessary condition for a process to be considered as agile development process?

Again, there are 2 problems:

  1. Coming to a consensus on what is mandatory practice is a difficult task
  2. What happens when an new and better practice emerges as a substitute for one of the selected practice?

Four Tests to determine if you are following an Agile process

Test 1: Software is developed in iteration regularly delivering working code

I think this test is beyond any debate! Nobody … nobody would claim a process to be agile without an iterative approach. Iteration without working code is meaningless. Working code also implies continuous testing.

Similarly, iteration without feedback is again meaningless. So, regular feedback from users is mandatory.

But beyond that there are many variants to iterative approach.

  • Should your iterations be of fixed interval?
  • Do you need to have a process of continuous integration?
  • Is it necessary to have an automated regression test suite?
  • Should you focus on always having a potentially shippable product?

These are all good practices, very important in certain situations, but not necessarily applicable in all situation.

Test 2: Never say no to change because it is not there in the plan or because it involves rework

Indeed, there can be many valid reasons why you may have to say no to change.

  • The impact of the change may be very significant, involving huge amount of extra work disrupting other planned features.
  • The value of the change may not sufficient to justify the effort to incorporate the change.
  • The change may be inconsistent with the way the rest of the software is expected to work.

There can be many other reasons for not accepting the change or deferring the change for later.

But, refusing a change because it is not there in the plan or because you have to discard parts of code which you have already done is not an acceptable reason in any process that claims to be an agile process.

Test 3: Accept that everything cannot be explicitly specified

Typical traditional process would work as follows:

  • A requirement analysis would be done and a software requirement specification document would be prepared
  • User will go through it and approve it
  • The software would be built and tested according to what is written in the document
  • User will try the software and claim that several important features are missing
  • Development team will claim that they have not been specified
  • User will claim that they are obvious

This approach is unacceptable in any agile process.

It is not that documentation is not important. What is unacceptable is to insisting that everything has to be explicitly documented.

It is like Japanese approach to communication. In western culture when A communicates something to B and B has not properly understood it then A is to be blamed because he did not check if the understanding is correct. In Japanese culture, the blame in on B because B did not ensure that his understanding is correct.

Test 4: You follow only those processes which you have found it to be of value under the given circumstances

If you have gone through an exercise of spring cleaning you would realize that how every object you pick somehow looks useful and you do not want to throw it.

Same thing happens when you are given a super-set of practices and asked to choose what you should follow. This is the approach followed by all heavyweight processes including RUP. Every practice in isolation would look useful.

So, any process which claims to be agile start with bare minimum practices and allows the project team to choose practices which will add real value in the given circumstances. It also has mechanism of having a regular introspection which allows discarding practices which has not proved its worth.

In Lean parlance it is called maximizing the work not done.

What do you think?

  • Are these tests have any value?
  • Are they relevant?
  • Have I missed out any important dimension of agile?

I am eagerly waiting for you feedback.

More Stories By Udayan Banerjee

Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at http://setandbma.wordpress.com.
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...

  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting
Google

@CloudExpo Stories
SYS-CON Media announced that IBM, which offers the world’s deepest portfolio of technologies and expertise that are transforming the future of work, has launched ad campaigns on SYS-CON’s numerous online magazines such as Cloud Computing Journal, Virtualization Journal, SOA World Magazine, and IoT Journal. IBM’s campaigns focus on vendors in the technology marketplace, the future of testing, Big Data and analytics, and mobile platforms.
NaviSite, Inc., a Time Warner Cable company, has opened a new enterprise-class data center located in Santa Clara, California. The new data center will enable NaviSite to meet growing demands for its enterprise-class Cloud and Managed Services from existing and new customers. This facility, which is owned by data center solution provider Digital Realty, will join NaviSite’s fabric of nine existing data centers across the U.S. and U.K., all of which are designed to provide a resilient, secure, hi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Intelligent Systems Services will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Established in 1994, Intelligent Systems Services Inc. is located near Washington, DC, with representatives and partners nationwide. ISS’s well-established track record is based on the continuous pursuit of excellence in designing, implementing and supporting nationwide clients’ mission-cri...
PubNub on Monday has announced that it is partnering with IBM to bring its sophisticated real-time data streaming and messaging capabilities to Bluemix, IBM’s cloud development platform. “Today’s app and connected devices require an always-on connection, but building a secure, scalable solution from the ground up is time consuming, resource intensive, and error-prone,” said Todd Greene, CEO of PubNub. “PubNub enables web, mobile and IoT developers building apps on IBM Bluemix to quickly add sc...
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...
There has been a lot of discussion recently in the DevOps space over whether there is a unique form of DevOps for large enterprises or is it just vendors looking to sell services and tools. In his session at DevOps Summit, Chris Riley, a technologist, discussed whether Enterprise DevOps is a unique species or not. What makes DevOps adoption in the enterprise unique or what doesn’t? Unique or not, what does this mean for adopting DevOps in enterprise size organizations? He also explored differe...
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Data-intensive companies that strive to gain insights from data using Big Data analytics tools can gain tremendous competitive advantage by deploying data-centric storage. Organizations generate large volumes of data, the vast majority of which is unstructured. As the volume and velocity of this unstructured data increases, the costs, risks and usability challenges associated with managing the unstructured data (regardless of file type, size or device) increases simultaneously, including end-to-...
The excitement around the possibilities enabled by Big Data is being tempered by the daunting task of feeding the analytics engines with high quality data on a continuous basis. As the once distinct fields of data integration and data management increasingly converge, cloud-based data solutions providers have emerged that can buffer your organization from the complexities of this continuous data cleansing and management so that you’re free to focus on the end goal: actionable insight.
The truth is, today’s databases are anything but agile – they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application and business needs change, data repositories and structures get outmoded rapidly, resulting in increased work for applica...
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
Between the compelling mockups and specs produced by your analysts and designers, and the resulting application built by your developers, there is a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral out of control, and applications fall short of requirements. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a new approach where business and development users collaborate – each using tools appropriate to their goals and expertise – to build mo...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is causing data centers to become radically decentralized and atomized within a new paradigm known as “fog computing.” To support IoT applications, such as connected cars and smart grids, data centers' core functions will be decentralized out to the network's edges and endpoints (aka “fogs”). As this trend takes hold, Big Data analytics platforms will focus on high-volume log analysis (aka “logs”) and rely heavily on cognitive-computing algorithms (aka “cogs”) to mak...
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gary Hall, Chief Technology Officer, Federal Defense at Cisco S...
There is no doubt that Big Data is here and getting bigger every day. Building a Big Data infrastructure today is no easy task. There are an enormous number of choices for database engines and technologies. To make things even more challenging, requirements are getting more sophisticated, and the standard paradigm of supporting historical analytics queries is often just one facet of what is needed. As Big Data growth continues, organizations are demanding real-time access to data, allowing immed...
With several hundred implementations of IoT-enabled solutions in the past 12 months alone, this session will focus on experience over the art of the possible. Many can only imagine the most advanced telematics platform ever deployed, supporting millions of customers, producing tens of thousands events or GBs per trip, and hundreds of TBs per month. With the ability to support a billion sensor events per second, over 30PB of warm data for analytics, and hundreds of PBs for an data analytics arc...
Big Data is amazing, it's life changing and yes it is changing how we see our world. Big Data, however, can sometimes be too big. Organizations that are not amassing massive amounts of information and feeding into their decision buckets, smaller data that feeds in from customer buying patterns, buying decisions and buying influences can be more useful when used in the right way. In their session at Big Data Expo, Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, and Ian Khan, Global Strategic Positi...
SYS-CON Media announced today that XebiaLabs launched a popular blog feed on DevOps Journal with close to 2,000 story reads in less than a day. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done.
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use c...
Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, today announced availability of Cloudian HyperStore 5.1 software. HyperStore 5.1 is an enhanced Amazon S3-compliant, plug-and-play hybrid cloud software solution that now features full Apache Hadoop integration. Enterprises can now transform big data into smart data by running Hadoop analytics on HyperStore software and appliances. This in-place analytics, with no need to offload data to other systems for Hadoop analyses, en...