Agile tools: Adapt or perish
December 1, 2010 —
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Related Search Term(s): agile
According to tool providers, most customers claiming to be agile have adopted Scrum. Some said Kanban often follows for more effective project management.
“Kanban is coming on strong," said Victor Szalvay, CTO of CollabNet's Scrum business unit. "Scrum and XP are more traditional agile flavors that are iteration-centric, and so the tools are iteration-focused.
“Kanban and Lean are [designed for] groups that [are not involved] in iterative development. Typical agile reports like burn-down charts are not sufficient to reach an end goal; they just provide a to-do list, which piles up. You also need metrics because you don’t want work in progress for too long. You need new tools and processes.”
How tool requirements evolve
Organizations moving to agile have to alter their approach to requirements since large planning documents are at odds with fast, iterative release cycles. According to Giora Morein, founder and principal consultant of BigVisible, requirements themselves are changing.
“Traditional requirements are attribute-driven,” he said. “[In the agile world], requirements are user-driven.”
The move to agile also requires a cultural overhaul, which is an obstacle to its adoption. Individuals have to adapt to working quickly on smaller projects, while teams and cross-functional groups must learn to work collaboratively.
“Organizations have typically created big things, so agile is a mismatch,” said Rally’s Olsen. “Because you’re not driving a huge plan, you need feedback and indicators about outcomes.”
Commonly, agile adoption starts with developers, which impacts other roles upstream and downstream such as requirements planning, testing and deployment.
“We’re seeing a clash of cultures,” said Andrew Phillips, VP of product development at XebiaLabs. “Operations still lags behind, [so] people are looking for a way to convince operations to deliver in an agile way and adapt to the workflow.”
The best way to adopt agile is to learn best practices rather than simply adopting tools, which is one reason many tool providers now offer professional services, training and other resources. Customers want and need assistance.
Professional service organizations usually custom-tailor recommendations to customers’ unique requirements, while classes tend to approach best practices more broadly. As a result, all of what is taught in class may not be applicable to all organizations.