Software change and configuration management company AccuRev has called for a more exhaustive approach and adherence to Agile methodologies throughout the development process. The company's CEO Lorne Cooper says that he has spoken to over 50 organizations in recent weeks to glean insights into how they have customized Agile to fit their process requirements. But, says Cooper, while most companies are doing well, some of them say the strangest things.
Cooper references firms who detail their usage of Scrum, but find that that IT team's devotion to the iterative Agile practice stops in the tech department, i.e. it is therefore not carried through to business processes witnessed at other levels of the company. So who is dropping the Agile opportunity? Product Management, Quality Assurance (QA), and the customer for that matter, or so it appears.
The assertion here is that companies are at risk of exhibiting a "Waterfall approach to going Agile" and not really doing Scrum. The biggest chunks of value, the incremental use of customer feedback, and going from "completed state" to "completed state" in each iteration are lost if you can't get more support argues Cooper.
"More than once I've been speaking with an earnest development leader who's describing the Scrum process. They'll launch in (with obvious pride) and tell me how they've gone to two-week iterations, do standup meetings, and
Other realities here include firms that hold a three month release testing tail, which follows a "modified Scrum process" … the project leader estimates the amount of work on each bug QA finds and then assigns it to a developer. The problem here is that new functionality requests crop up during the "release testing tail" … because of course you can't expect the customer to stop needing improvements for three months!
"Builds are going to fail. Get used to it. The problem is not that the build failed, but that you couldn't fix it. Good practices are to have the team drop what they're doing when the build fails and hop on fixing it. If they can't fix it, it needs to get escalated *pronto*. Better is to have the team do local builds and unit testing before they check in. Best Practices are to divide up the build process by team and stage of development, so your team only pollutes itself, not the rest of the development org," said Cooper.
AccuRev's CEO finishes by saying that no one has to pass a test to call themselves "Agile," nor should they. Cooper says that Agile proponents don't have a monopoly on the right way to develop software. But when people believe they've made it to Agile without using critical Agile concepts like time boxing development or getting to "done", they're missing the real value.