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Articles : Adopting an Agile Method
on 2007/9/19 22:50:00 (2863 reads)

The argument has been made: "We should be using an Agile software development method." And the command has rung out: "Make it so!" Now what do you do? How do you take that one-line "requirement", and make it so?

Adopting an Agile method is no different from any other change we might make to the methods and tools we use. We must determine why we are embarking on this course, choose the method that will satisfy the need most closely, then map out the path from where we are today to where we need to be. Then we can "make it so".

Author: Alan S. Koch, http://www.ASKProcess.com

Why Adopt an Agile Method?

Before we start changing things, lets first step back and be sure we understand what it is that we are trying to fix. After all, if there were not a problem with the way we do things today, there would be no reason to change. So, our starting point is the original argument for adopting an Agile method.

If there was significant discussion before the decision to adopt was made, then the information we are looking for may already exist. If little was discussed (or if there is no record of what was discussed), then you will need to work with the person who suggested the change to understand why it was suggested. Are there problems with the methods we use today? What are they? How bad are they? Who is affected by them? Or is there the expectation that although no large problem exists, an Agile method would allow us to improve over our current methods? What sort of improvement is anticipated? How significant is it expected to be? And who might be the beneficiaries of the improvement?

We also need to discuss with the decision-maker why they decided to approve the idea. What did they envision? What benefits do they expect? How do they think things will change as a result of adopting this new method? And most importantly, what would be this person’s definition of "success" in this endeavor?

Of course, when we discuss these things with multiple people, we may find that there has not yet been a meeting of the minds on exactly why we should adopt an Agile method. In that case, we must bring the diverging minds together (preferably in the same room) to discuss their different perceptions and agree on exactly why we want to do this.

Regardless of what it takes, we must end up with a clear and consistent description of the reason why we are adopting a new way of working. Indeed, without this, we are virtually assured of failure, and some of the major constituencies are likely to be unhappy with the end result. Conversely, with a clear understanding of the "why" of the effort, we are equipped to move forward with confidence.

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