More on Agile 2009

05 September

The conference theme was “Making Agile Real” and I came away with the strong feeling that Agile is THE way of working in Information Technology today.  The conference tackled some of the significant challenges facing the Agile movement as we move from “small teams in small rooms tackling small projects” to organisation-wide adoption across industries from government to manufacturing to financial services to medical systems. 

One of the impacts of this level of adoption is the need to tackle problems which had previously been considered to be outside the realm of Agile, including distributed team projects, very large teams, alignment with CMMi levels (up to Level  5), working in heavily regulated environments and life-&-safety-critical projects.  The conference had sessions addressing all of these issues.

Another trend is the recognition that some “design up front” is actually a good thing on many projects, and that most projects cannot afford to ignore architecture.  Finding the “just enough” point for architectural decisions – how much to do upfront, and how much can be deferred until later, will be a key success measure in software projects.

Role and skill changes are also needed in the software testing area – testers on Agile projects need to have more technical skills, in order to contribute more effectively and utilise the tools for TDD (Test Driven Development to provide advice and input to developers building unit tests) and ATDD (Acceptance Test Driven Development).

All team members need to become more comfortable working across multiple disciplines and the “soft skills” of communication, empathy and collaboration will be more important to project success than purely technical skills.  The era of the lone programmer working in a cubicle without talking to anyone is fast coming to a close.  “T-shaped” cross-functional skills are necessary for modern software development teams.


Posted by Shane Hastie