Journey Towards Agile

Recently my manager asked me if I wanted to attend a software conference in Orlando. Although it was all very last minute I was glad to take him up on it. When I asked if there was anything particular I should watch out for he said “learn all you can about Agile, we may be doing it soon”. I was also asked to prepare a presentation on the topic.

The Journey

So a change is heading potentially heading our way. When I mentioned to a developer/friend what I was up to he responded “We do waterfall here and are real good at the resulting turbulence”. This actually served to remind me what we were development-wise, i.e. a “waterfall” house. I had learned about Agile Development from attending presentations at SDForums SEMSIG and had done a little research on my own and one thing I had not heard so far was how to transition, where to begin and what could happen. I may know something however I had a long way to go if I was to help get the process started and advise my team and other through the transition.

The conference helped flesh out my knowledge a bit. In regards to transition several things stood out due to the number of times I heard them repeated by multiple source. So in no particular order:

  • Training before starting – Teams with prior training had a higher success rate.
  • Transparency and Involvement – As the transition goes on keep everything open and encourage involvement.
  • Prepare for turnover – Between 10 & 40 percent of your staff will leave.
  • Agile and Offshore development may not mix well – With Agile communications is key and with geographically diverse team extra effort will be requires. This may raise costs.
  • Automation is a big part – Get going on this going on this early in build and test.
  • Feedback from Customers is part of Agile – This is necessary for as part if the process.

This is not an exhaustive list but it was a start. Again what surprised me was the number of times these points were repeated by different people. So they mean something. One other area stood out and that was on the size of the transition. It seems some encouraged transitioning in small groups, others in a big-bang approach. This was one area of particular interest yet there was no clear answer.

So where am I going with this? Well… We are in the beginning of the pre-planning I would say so no-where as of now. The overall lesson would be to really do your homework before you go down this path. I hope to be able to pass along more lessons in future posts.

Thomas De Lora

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