Friday, June 29, 2007

How agile is your Agile?

Agile development provides tools for dealing with the constantly changing environment in which software is often developed. When used properly these tools do a wonderful job of helping people cope with change. But what about your Agile process itself? What if it needs to change?
At GenoLogics we have been using variations on Agile development for almost a year. In that time we've changed numerous things about our process.

So what is our most recent change? Currently we track all our iteration tasks using Jira, our web-based issue tracking tool. Starting next week one of our iteration teams is going to start tracking their work using 3x5 paper cards. Why the low-tech experiment? We are counting on the human factor; people relate better to things they can see and touch. It is expected that developers who can physically see all the outstanding task cards, and who can take a physical task card to their desk and stick it up on the wall, will have a better sense of their progress.

The specifics of our change aren't the most important thing however. The important thing is that, as a development team, everyone is interested and willing to try something new and see how it works. Even when you think you've got everything figured out, changes in your market, or your staffing levels, or your total experience, will make regular change critical to growing your organization.

What can you change in your process? What will you measure so you can tell if it helped?

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