13 July 2008

A picture is worth a thousand words: Enterprise Agile

Filed under: Agile, communications, waterfall — David Wood @ 8:44 pm

Communications via words often isn’t enough. You generally need pictures too.

For example, in seeking to explain to people about the merits of Agile over more traditional, “plan-based” software development methods, I’ve often found excerpts from the following sequence of pictures to be useful:

The last two pictures in this series are an attempt to show how Agile can be applied in multiple layers in the more complex environment of large-scale (“enterprise-scale”) software projects. Of course, it’s particularly challenging to gain the benefits of Agile in these larger environments.

I drew these diagrams (almost exactly 12 months ago) after having read fairly widely in the Agile literature. So these diagrams draw upon the insights of many Agile advocates. Someone who influenced me more than most was Dean Leffingwell, author of the easy-to-read yet full-of-substance book “Scaling Software Agility: Best practices for large enterprises” that I’ve already mentioned in this blog. I’d also like to highlight the “How to be Agile without being Extreme” course developed and delivered by Construx as being particularly helpful for Symbian.

Dean has carried out occasional training and consulting engagements for Symbian over the last twelve months. One outcome of this continuing dialog is an impressive new picture, which tackles many issues that are omitted by simpler pictures about Agile. The picture is now available on Dean’s blog:

If the picture intrigues you, I suggest you pay close attention to the next few posts that Dean makes, where he promises to provide annotations to the different elements. This could be the picture that generates many thousands of deeply insightful words…

Footnote: I’ve long held that Open Source is no panacea for complex software projects. If you aren’t world class in software development skills such as compatibility management, system architecture review, modular design, overnight builds, peer reviews, and systematic and extensive regression testing, then Open Source won’t magically allow you to compete with companies that do have these skillsets. One more item to add to this list of necessary skills is enterprise-scale agile. (Did I call it “one more item”? Scratch that – there are many skills involved, under this one label.)

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