Agile Experience Reports From Development Managers

Yesterday I got to hear two experience reports on our Agile/Scrum pilot projects from two peer managers who aren’t exactly strong proponents of Agile. I assume this is happening more places now that Agile is moving beyond the early adopters. Anway onto the experience reports. From a web development manager:

  • The idea of less useless documentation was really appealing, and he found it to work well in practice.
  • Collocation worked really well as the team all gained a sense of camaraderie.
  • Refactoring can get out of control. On this project they went from iBATIS to Hibernate to SDO to Hibernate in the course of three Sprints. Partially this was because they got bad advice from some consultants on using SDO for all projects.
  • It seemed like even though it was an Agile project you still ended up with a lot of slack. Developers would have to wait at times for business requirements. QA would be waiting for things to test as the developers were coding. (We haven’t used something like Fitnesse for acceptence testing yet, and we’re still adopting from very siloed team roles.)
  • As a resource manager sometimes it’s hard to juggle your resources when some of them are on an Agile project.

From a mainframe manager: (Yes, we are crazy enough to try something like Scrum on a traditional mainframe project.)

  • Starting off he admitted he is heavily biased against all methodologies Agile or not because he doesn’t believe they work. He came out into the workplace when James Martin was selling his Information Engineering Methodology as the way to do perfect projects.
  • His developers hated collocation at first since they didn’t want to move out of their cubes. Within a few weeks though they all agreed that collocation had worked really well and they actually really liked it.
  • From the manager’s perspective since the product owners are more involved they’re not constantly dropping into his office to talk over things which has been a relief.
  • He hates the 30 day iterations. He thought that iterations should just be planned around how long it took to completely code something. Say a three week iteration followed by a two week iteration and then a five week iteration to deliver a project. (Sort of blows the rhythm idea out of the water, but could work in something like Crystal if everyone agreed to the try the flucuating iteration lengths.)