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Articles : Adopting an Agile Method
on 2007/9/19 22:50:00 (1806 reads)
Articles


The promoters of the Agile methods tell us that their methods can and should be used on any project. Indeed, some of them are experimenting with Agile distributed teams. While it may be true that Agile methods can be used on any project, the questions you must ask is, should you use the practices these methods prescribe on your projects!

This means going back to the purpose you identified for adopting an Agile method, and determining if the practices will support achieving those goals. Examine the practices that you expect to adopt, and for each, determine the extent to which it can be implemented given the realities of your projects, and the benefits you anticipate can be reasonably expected to accrue.

Tools and Processes

The methods we employ do not exist in a vacuum. They are strongly influenced by the environment in which we use them; and an important part of that environment includes the supporting tools and processes that we depend upon.

As things stand today, your organization already has a set of tools and processes in place. To what extent will those tools and processes be compatible with and support the new Agile practices you expect to adopt? Will your processes and tools (e.g. for requirements management, or for Quality Assurance) stand in the way of adopting Agile practices? And if so, is there latitude to change them (or get rid of them) in order to make the environment more conducive to the Agile practices?

The flip side is also true. Many of the Agile practices require specific tool and process support in order to be effective. For example, eXtreme Programming expects that automated testing tools are available to the entire programming team, and that they use them heavily. Are such tools available in your organization? And if so, are there enough licenses to allow this widespread use?

Another example is code control tools. Most of the Agile methods assume strong code control systems and strict adherence to the disciplines involved in using them. Liberal use of things like refactoring and shared ownership of code can only work in an environment that provides the necessary code control tools and processes.

Examine the practices that you expect to adopt, and for each, determine the extent to which it can be implemented given the realities of your tools and processes, and the benefits you anticipate can be reasonably expected to accrue.

Staff

As we noted earlier, the Agile methods expect that development teams will be self-directing. This means that instead of being told what to do, the team understands the objectives of the project, and they collaborate with the customer and each other to determine the most appropriate steps to take at each juncture.

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