Agile and Project Management

Some notes on an article entitled “The Bottom Line”, by Robert C Martin, that appeared in the December 2003 edition of “Software Development”, p 42-44:

  • Agile is a method for managing software projects.
  • Managing a software project often involves more prayer than science.
  • A project’s due date is driven by business needs rather than technical considerations.
  • Decades of data have revealed that we are terrible at estimating development timescales.
  • Managers would benefit from real data to manage a project by.
  • Without real data, it is often too late to do anything about schedule slippage.
  • The goal should not be to meet the original plan at whatever cost; instead, there is a need to continuouslymake management decisions to optimise a project’s outcome.
    • If date is critical, manage scope and personnel.
    • If feature set is critical, manage expectations about date.
    • If budget is the deciding factor, manage content and date expectations to get most bang for buck.
  • Agile methods can generate a continuous stream of data that lets managers make intelligent decisions to guide the project.
  • Examples:
    • Velocity Chart
    • Story Points Chart
  • Involve breaking projects into small parts.
  • Often objected that this is not always possible, but experience suggests that it is.
  • Automated tests reveal the extent to which a project is complete.
  • Agile methods have been shown to provide reliable data.
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