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Traps & Pitfalls of Agile Software Development - A Non-Contrarian View

38 replies on 3 pages. Most recent reply: Jul 20, 2012 3:59 PM by Krithika Seetharaman

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John Campbell

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Nickname: jdcampb2
Registered: Nov, 2010

Re: Traps & Pitfalls of Agile Software Development - A Non-Contrarian View Posted: Nov 19, 2010 1:44 PM
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I am working on a project looking at the pitfalls associated with Agile development and this post seems right in line with our point of view. Great post! Maybe we should interview you for our research.

Sean Landis

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Nickname: seanl
Registered: Mar, 2002

Re: Traps & Pitfalls of Agile Software Development - A Non-Contrarian View Posted: Nov 21, 2010 11:30 AM
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I would be glad to talk with you about the possibility of an interview. I'd need to learn more before I can commit.

Jeff Baldwin

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Nickname: jeffreys
Registered: Aug, 2011

Re: Traps & Pitfalls of Agile Software Development - A Non-Contrarian View Posted: Aug 29, 2011 11:15 AM
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I agree with this as well, especially item #6. In my witnessing and taking part in a broad array of "Agile" implementations as a consultant, I've noticed that in most environments in which the dogma is heavily adopted, the process becomes the "end" and not the "means". This (as stated in #6) gives rise to persuit of tactical gains and vitories with little or no thought to the big picture. If TDD is adopted as well, it can become a detriment to the overall architecture of the end product. I find many tenets of Agile extremely worthwhile if applied with care and oversight (but it really is all common sense stuff). Same with TDD, I like it alot except when the test becomes "king". Just having a test on something does not mean that it's being tested correctly or thoroughly.

Krithika Seetharaman

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Nickname: kayes
Registered: Jul, 2012

Re: Traps & Pitfalls of Agile Software Development - A Non-Contrarian View Posted: Jul 19, 2012 9:32 AM
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Hello All. I am new to this forum and this is my first post.
We are currently transitioning to agile development process in our company. So we are all in the learning phase. I work in algorithm development team. Agile methodology seems to pose a specific set of challenges for our team.
Most of the hard optimization problems that we solve require a lot of research and prototyping. Though these tasks can be put under ‘design spikes’, still it is not clear how to properly set time limit, track, identify definition of done in the prototyping phase, how to do TDD for the hard problems etc.
Did anyone have similar experiences? Can anyone suggest any pointers on how to go about it with Agile?

Sean Landis

Posts: 129
Nickname: seanl
Registered: Mar, 2002

Re: Traps & Pitfalls of Agile Software Development - A Non-Contrarian View Posted: Jul 19, 2012 10:08 AM
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Hi Krithika,
You should ask yourself why you want to adopt agile methods. They aren't right for every project. Agile methods are good for helping a team plan, predict, and pace development toward a goal. If your work is generally investigative, with highly variable scope (as you learn about what you are doing) then you need to accept that there will be a lot of variance in your planning. One benefit of working in iterations is that it keeps you on pace, with regular times when you evaluate what you've done, and what you will do next. It gives you focus. But it can't make an intrinsically unpredictable project predictable. What are you looking for from agile? What aspects do you see providing you value?

You mentioned TDD. That's a development practice. I don't consider it part of agile, although TDD is very popular among people that practice agile development. TDD isn't a panacea either, but I could see where, in your case, it would have great value.

Krithika Seetharaman

Posts: 3
Nickname: kayes
Registered: Jul, 2012

Re: Traps & Pitfalls of Agile Software Development - A Non-Contrarian View Posted: Jul 20, 2012 10:57 AM
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Thanks, Sean.
Yes, I/we do understand that not every problem can be treated the same way. However I was looking for tips from agile experts to see how ‘research type work’ is managed through agile process, if anyone is doing that.

Based on my minimum exposure with Agile so far, Agile gives: Better visibility, easier communication among team members and better sense of time which are all valuable

About TDD: Yes, TDD is not part of the agile question, please ignore that for now. Thanks, Sean, for bringing it to my attention.

Sean Landis

Posts: 129
Nickname: seanl
Registered: Mar, 2002

Re: Traps & Pitfalls of Agile Software Development - A Non-Contrarian View Posted: Jul 20, 2012 12:13 PM
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Hi Krithika,
it sounds like you are focusing on the right things. If I were you, I'd take a methodology, Scrum is a good one to start with because of it's simplicity, and just try to do it. Don't bite off too much at once.

A major key to success in agile development is understanding the value proposition of each practice. If you do, then you can use it effectively, modify it to your needs, or jettison it if it provides no value. You want to avoid doing something for 'agile's sake'. Do something because it adds value for your company.

As a researcher, you should enjoy this: Try new things and run them like experiments, followed by reflection.

BTW, I worked in a research organization for several years. I'd be glad to share my thoughts any time.

Good luck!

Sean Landis

Posts: 129
Nickname: seanl
Registered: Mar, 2002

Re: Traps & Pitfalls of Agile Software Development - A Non-Contrarian View Posted: Jul 20, 2012 12:17 PM
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Krithika,
A resource I found extremely valuable in learning Agile, was Alistair Cockburn's Agile Software Development (http://www.amazon.com/Agile-Software-Development-Cooperative-Game/dp/0321482751/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342800919&sr=1-3&keywords=alistair+cockburn).

It's very people-centric. Since one of the values you seek is communication, I think you would find this book helpful.
Regards,
Sean

Krithika Seetharaman

Posts: 3
Nickname: kayes
Registered: Jul, 2012

Re: Traps & Pitfalls of Agile Software Development - A Non-Contrarian View Posted: Jul 20, 2012 3:59 PM
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Thanks,Sean. Your pointers are very useful. Trying out things to see what works best makes a lot of sense.

I will check out the book as well.

I really appreciate your help. Thanks.

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