Skip to main content

Agile practices don't primarily solve problems

But they sure help detecting problems early. And that's extremely valuable.

For instance, iterative development with deliveries early in the project will test the technical feasibility and the development speed. But perhaps most important, we will get feedback on the functionality from the clients, to verify if we have understood their problem correctly.

Failing in any of these areas will lead to project failure. And it is better to discover this when 20% of the budget is used than when 90% of the budget is used. First, you reduce your losses. And even better, you have a fair chance of fixing the project and turning it into success.

Many agile projects succeed not because they are more productive, but because they discover problems in early iteations and then reduce the requirements.

Unit testing is another practice that makes you aware of problems early. This makes it cheaper to fix problems, but it also gives confidence, so you dear restructure code when necessary.

Another agile practice is close communication with business experts, preferably face to face. The non-agile alternative is written requirements. The problem is that developers misunderstand what the business experts want. That's inevitable. What we need, are mechanisms to discover misunderstandings. That mechanism is called feedback. The business expert explain what they want, and the developer explain how they understood that to the business expert, which confirms that this was correct. That's easier to do face to face than with written documents.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Database dump with Java

I need to update a database that is created by PHP. The problem is that I am not a PHP coder, but a Java coder, and I need to use some other Java libraries to get the job done. So how can find out exactly which tables to update and how? It would take me weeks to search the PHP code, and I still wouldn't be sure if I got it right.

The first step is to install a clean application on my computer. There is no user data in the database, so if I perform commands like creating a user etc in the web application, I can look at what changed in the database. I'm sure that could be done in MySQL, but I'm not an expert on that either. When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So, I'll use Java for that to.

So, I wrote a small Java application that produces exactly the output that I need. It reads metadata from the database to find all tables and columns, lists that metadata and the content of all the rows.

Here it is:import java.io.FileNotFoundException;
im…

The Future of Programming

The problem with abstractions Programmers are experts in abstract thinking. To program is to generalize: A method is a general specification of different execution paths. A class is a general specification of objects. A superclass is a generalization of several classes.

Although our minds are capable of abstract thinking, concrete thinking is more natural, and concrete examples are the foundation for abstractions. For instance, how do you teach children what a car is? You don't give a definition like: 'A car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers.' Instead, you point at a car and say: 'Look, a car!' After seeing a few cars, the child understands what a car is.


Notice what I just did! I started with a general principle and then gave an example. Which part of the paragraph above is easier to understand, the first sentence (general) or the rest (example)?

Einstein said that examples is not another way to teach, it is the only way to teach. It is…

World War 2, Rationalism and Agile Development

One of the central values of the Agile Manifesto is Responding to change over following a plan. This doesn't mean that it's not agile to make a plan. You should have a plan, but you should realize the limitations of the plan.

Are there any parallels to this in history?

The Soviet Union had 5-year plans. Stalin was quite succesful in industrializing the rural country in a short span of time. But his methods did not work well in the battlefield. In the 2nd world war, the Soviet suffered severe losses in the beginning.

You can plan how to build and manage a factory, because the complexity is limited. But a war is far more complex. You cannot predict what the enemy is going to do. This doesn't mean that you should go to war without a plan. Far from it, you should plan as much as possible, but be prepared to improvize when something unexpected happens. As Dwight D. Eisenhower, a successful American general in World War 2, said: "Plans are nothing; planning is everything."…