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A New Arithmetic for the Backlog

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The heart of the matter in this engagement was ensuring that technical debt stories would not become ‘second citizens.’ We proposed treating technical debt as a strategic investment theme. To our way of thinking, technical debt is no different from customary budget allocations to growing market segments, tactical sales opportunities, cost reduction and the like.

Click here for details in the Cutter blog including guidance how to work through the Data Structure of the Enterprise figure below.

Allocation Flows in the Data Structure of the Enterprise

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Written by israelgat

September 29, 2011 at 6:39 am

Getting Ready for Agile 2011 – Part II

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In her recent post Getting Ready for Agile 2011, Anne Mullaney gave an outline of my forthcoming sessions at the conference. Specifically, she highlighted the emergence of new forms of Agility:

“Super-Fresh Code” is a term Israel coined (an extension of the “Super-Fresh Web” concept) to describe code that results from seizing upon the opportunities opened by combining recent advances in Agile software methods, cloud computing, mobile applications, and social networking. With the right mix, a company can outgun, outclass and outmaneuver its competition through real-time requirements management and superior business designs. Essentially, super-fresh code becomes the source of competitive advantage. This is a workshop that will make you think about Agile in ways you never have before.

Appropriately enough for the anniversary year of the Agile Manifesto, my strong conviction indeed is that we are just about witnessing Agile going beyond being “just” a software method. Markets are becoming hyper-segmented. There is no way to reach tiny, granular market segments economically without sophisticated software. Moreover, markets are becoming ultra-fluid. It takes a high degree of software-based business agility to penetrate market segments that form and collapse at the speed with which social networking groups emerge (and disappear). Hence, software is becoming a bigger and bigger part of just about any business — avionics, financial services, healthcare, retail, transportation, telco, and so on. In fact, in many engagements Cutter consultants carry out, the software is the company. Unless Agile methods are used strategically, the ability of a company to generate value for its customers and capture profit for itself might be in jeopardy: the company simply cannot adapt fast enough in the face of a significant amount of technical debt.

Viewed from this perspective, technical debt becomes an integral part of Agile methods. One starts an enterprise level Agile roll-out in order to, well, gain Agility. The accrual of technical debt puts a damper on Agility. Hence, implementing a technical debt assessment, reduction and prevention program is an essential part of the Agile initiative. In fact, Cutter recommends to its clients to integrate the two all the way down to the backlog stories.

I can’t wait to discuss these topics with you and other Agile 2011 participants in just about two weeks!

Interview with Jim Highsmith

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InformIT has just posted my interview with Jim Highsmith. While the interview naturally focuses on the the new edition of Agile Project Management, Jim makes quite a few observations on deep truths. For example, in response to my asking him to do a quick “retrospective” of the period since he signed the Manifesto, Jim gives both perspective and retrospective. Here is an excerpt from his answer:

If the Agile movement is to continue, we have to better understand what the core Agile principles really are, and not just our personal interpretation, and then find ways to incorporate thoughts and ideas that may seem in conflict with our own ideas. Just because some Agile camps may have a more widespread audience, that doesn’t make them the source for all things Agile. The essence of change is tolerance for new ideas that conflict with our own.

Enjoy reading the full interview!

Written by israelgat

August 17, 2009 at 8:21 am

A Note on the Standish CHAOS Reports

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In his recent seminar Advanced Agile Project Management Workshop,  Jim Highsmith made the following comment on the interpretation of the Standish CHAOS Reports:

The Standish data are NOT a good indicator of poor software development performance. However, they ARE an indicator of systemic failure of our planning and measurement processes.

Jim is referring to the standard definition of  project “success”:

One time, on budget, all specified features

Jim elaborates on this key point in the forthcoming second edition of Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products. Stay tuned…

Written by israelgat

May 21, 2009 at 4:03 pm