The role of documentation in agile projects

Posted on December 12th, 2006 in Agile, Methodology by siddharta || 3 Comments

A commonly misunderstood aspect of agile project management is the role of documentation in agile projects. The agile manifesto says:

Working software over comprehensive documentation

This is misunderstood to mean that agile projects do not have documentation. Discussions about agile often revolve around this point, and statements of the form “Agile says no documentation, so lets stop documenting and we’ll be agile” are heard once in a while. At the other end is the “Agile says no documentation, so it’s just ad-hoc coding” camp.

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Flexibility vs Efficiency

Posted on November 17th, 2006 in Agile, Methodology by siddharta || 1 Comment

This post by Dmitri kicked off a mini-debate about agility and rigidity. The debate is about whether a developer should be interrupted for a day to perfrom some side job. Check out the posts linked above for the whole story.

This is a common enough issue that it requires further examination.

At the root of the issue is what I call the flexibility-efficiency dilemma. This tradeoff is, in fact, at the root of many issues of agile vs traditional processes. The essence is that if you want more flexibility, you trade in less efficiency and vice versa.

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Do we need an Apgar score for software?

Posted on November 3rd, 2006 in Methodology by siddharta || No Comment

Daniel Read has a very thought provoking post on whether software needs an Apgar score.

First, I encourage you to read both the original New Yorker article and Daniel’s post.

What is the Apgar score? If you don’t know, you didn’t read the article, so go back and read it. Okay, okay :) The Apgar score is a method used to determine the health of a baby at childbirth. The baby is scored between 0–2 on five factors: heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, skin irritability and skin colour, giving a total score between 0–10. The score is measured once at 1 minute after birth and again at 5 minutes after birth. A score of 7 or more is a healthy baby. Less than seven does not necessarily indicate an unhealthy baby, but doctors will look at the baby to be sure. Before the score was devised, determining the baby’s state was a complex mass of subjective measures which often meant that the baby was not given treatment when required because some factor was overlooked.

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Twenty five posts on agile

Posted on October 26th, 2006 in Agile, Methodology by siddharta || No Comment

I was re-organising my bookmarks yesterday and I decided to collect some of them into a post. Here then, in no particular order, are twenty five posts on agile:

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Agile in the Communications of the ACM

Posted on October 17th, 2006 in Agile, Methodology by siddharta || No Comment

I got my October 2006 issue of the Communications of the ACM in the post today. The featured topic of this issue is “Flexible and Distributed software processes”, and a lot of articles feature agile software development, especially in the context of distributed software development. If you have ACM digital library access, you can read the articles online at the above link.

The leading article, Flexible and Distributed Software Processes: Old Petunias in New Bowls?” (ACM Digital Library membership required) has some interesting commentaries by well known experts. Although about global software development and distributed teams, much of it is also applicable to co-located teams. Here are some snippets

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