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Beyond Functional Requirements On Agile Projects

Developer Education

The fourth strategy for addressing NFRs and constraints on agile teams, and on traditional teams for that matter, is to educate developers in these issues. It's easy to say that you're going to identify and then validate NFRs pertaining to consumability, security, and green IT, but if developers don't have even a basic understanding of these issues then how could they possibly do so effectively? I'm not saying that everyone needs to become a security expert, but they should understand the fundamentals.

Many organizations balk at the concept of training their developers to this extent, a decision that is incredibly short sighted. Yes, giving everyone a two-day training course in each of 20 to 30 topics adds up. But, when you spread these costs over a 30-year career, they're very small. When you look at the total value provided by improved knowledge and skills, it often proves to be a very good investment. When you enhance your training and education efforts by nonsolo development practices such as pair programming and modeling with others, you quickly see benefits from the training courses.

The four strategies for addressing nonfunctional requirements and constraints on agile projects go hand-in-hand. You need to first identify these issues through requirements envisioning and formulate a viable technical strategy through architectural envisioning during Iteration 0. The details are then explored on a just-in-time (JIT) manner throughout construction and validated via parallel independent investigative testing. Finally, to ensure that everyone involved understands these issues, your organization must invest in educating IT professionals, giving them knowledge beyond the intricacies of the technology de jure that will improve their overall productivity throughout their careers. Disciplined agilists go beyond the prioritized stack approach to requirements management and adopt a more holistic approach that addresses not only functional requirements but nonfunctional requirements and constraints as well.

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