Agile Methods

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The ultimate management sin is to waste people’s time, Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister told us in their famous book Peopleware [1]. This includes having pointless meetings that prevent people from actually doing anything useful. Nevertheless, some meetings are considered a necessary evil and therefore the so-called “agile movement” in software development has come up with an efficient way of dealing with this: the Stand-up Meeting in 15 Minutes. For those who have just woken up from ten years of hibernation, or having emerged from a cave that had no Internet access, I will explain this briefly.

A stand-up meeting is a daily meeting where people remain standing up to keep the duration of the meeting under 15 minutes. Teams use these meetings to answer three simple questions..

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"As I discussed my May article for Modern Analyst, there's a lot of hype about the role of requirements in agile projects. Many people think you don’t “do” requirements on an agile project. Hogwash. Indeed, agile projects use requirements—but just enough requirements at just the right time."

In this article Ellen covers a number of agile requirements topics including:

  • Agile requirements need to be understood in context of the product, release, and iteration
  • Balancing Business and Technical Value
  • The Product Workshop
  • Release Workshops
  • Iteration Workshops
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The latest progression in software development methods is the agile approach. Its growing popularity proves how effective it is. But two extreme—and even dangerous—views have arisen about agile development. One is that you don’t do requirements at all when you’re working on an agile project. The other is that you don’t need good requirements practices.

In truth, agile development processes are based on good practices. Most of them are not new but are being reconfigured, along with good product development, engineering, and project management practices. In my work with agile teams, I’ve noticed a number of key practices

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Ideally, an agile document is just barely good enough, or just barely sufficient, for the situation at hand. Documentation is an important part of agile software development projects, but unlike traditionalists who often see documentation as a risk reduction strategy, agilists typically see documentation as a strategy which increases overall project risk and therefore strive to be as efficient as possible when it comes to documentation. Agilists write documentation when that's the best way to achieve the relevant goals, but there often proves to be better ways to achieve those goals than writing static documentation. This article summarizes common "best practices" which agilists have adopted with respect to documentation.

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Agile software development teams embrace change, accepting the idea that requirements will evolve throughout a project. Agilists understand that because requirements evolve over time that any early investment in detailed documentation will only be wasted. Instead agilists will do just enough initial requirements envisioning to identify their projec...
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To be honest, I'm not very enamored with the term "best practice". I believe that the term "contextual practice" makes far more sense because what is a "best practice" in some situations proves to be a "worst practice" in others. Having said that, people are interested in best practices so here they are when it comes to agile requirements modeling:...
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Many traditional project teams run into trouble when they try to define all of the requirements up front, often the result of a misguided idea that developers will actually read and follow what the requirements document contains. The reality is that the requirements document is usually insufficient, regardless of how much effort goes into it, the r...
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This article, actually a compilation of three articles, provides proven advice for applying agile strategies on IBM® Rational® Unified Process®, or RUP®, teams. The articles are written by Mark Lines, Joshua Barnes, and Julian Holmes respectively, co-founders of Unified Process Mentors (www.upmentors.com). These three have mentored literally thousa...
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First, I'm a project focused software developer, team lead, designer, architect, jack of all trades, who has been on projects that have used various methodologies over the years, including of late some agile projects. I'm not a big blog reader, or a big blogger, but like most people I have an opinion on things, and for some reason that opinio...
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Agile software developers, just like traditional software developers, perform analysis activities. Unlike traditional developers, agilists approach analysis in a highly collaborative manner and do so on a just-in-time (JIT) basis. Analysis is so important to us we do it every single day. In this article, I discuss: What is analysis? Ret...
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Have you noticed the examples of requirements elicitation on my blog? In one case, I had a bit of a contest, using a game to elicit information. You can see this technique by looking in the category Online Game on the blog. Then I had a survey to elicit information. You can see that survey by looking in the category Survey on the blog. Today I am going to use the information from the survey to show you another technique you might use when developing requirements. That technique is writing Personas (or Personae for you Latin fans).

You write a Persona when you want to understand your customers better. This Persona is a story you will tell about a typical (but not real) customer. The Persona is a composite story about your typical customers, made very lifelike.

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I have been very fortunate to see a lot of this history first hand. I have observed changes not just in terms of systems and computers, but also how the trade press has evolved and the profession in general. It has been an interesting ride.

Throughout all of this, there have been some very intelligent people who have impacted the industry, there have also been quite a few charlatans, but there has only been a handful of true geniuses, one of which was Robert W. Beamer who passed away just a couple of years ago. Bob was the father of ASCII code, without which we wouldn't have the computers of today, the Internet, the billions of dollars owned by Bill Gates, or this document.

I always find it amusing when I tell a young person in this industry that I worked with punch cards and plastic templates years ago. Its kind of the same dumbfounded look I get from my kids when I tell them we used to watch black and white television with three channels, no remote control, and station signoffs at midnight. It has been my observation that our younger workers do not have a sense of history; this is particularly apparent in the systems world. If they do not have an appreciation of whence we came, I doubt they will have an appreciation of where we should be going. Consequently, I have assembled the following chronology of events in the hopes this will provide some insight as to how the systems industry has evolved to its current state.

I'm sure I could turn this into a lengthy dissertation but, instead, I will try to be brief and to the point. Further, the following will have little concern for academic developments but rather how systems have been implemented in practice in the corporate world.

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The main benefit of today’s Agile development methodologies such as Scrum or XP is the promise of delivering more in a shorter period of time and the value derived from having the flexibility to adjust your course mid-way through a development effort. But does this type of approach allow for requirements management? Is RM necessary given the shorte...
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Agile analysis is being spoken of more and more frequently in the world of business analysts. This form of analysis is becoming more and more popular as the next generation of business owners comes into play. It is a more hands on approach to the business analysis. There is more communication. Face to face discussions occur more frequently. E-mails and faxes are becoming few and far between. So what is agile analysis?

Author: Tony de Bree

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Agile Modeling (AM) defines a collection of core and supplementary principles that when applied on a software development project set the stage for a collection of modeling practices. Some of the principles have been adopted from eXtreme Programming (XP) and are well documented in Extreme Programming Explained, which in turn adopted them from commo...
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