My Introduction to Agile

I have been working with a web development firm for the last 15 months. We have clients all over the globe and the projects manage from simple websites to complex and mission critical web applications. All the project communications and visibility typically rests on a web based PMS called Base Camp PMS. If you do not already know about it, it is a project collaboration tool by a company called 37 Signals www.37signals.com It is claimed to be built by focussing on developing rather than paraphernalia that generally surrounds development processes – meaning no documentation, no elaborate meetings, no Gantt Charts, no thinking of all feature up front etc. It was also a product which benefitted from outsourcing. Their only lead developer was somewhere in Europe and still they were able to come up with a highly usable [probably debatable?] piece of software in record times. Part of the attraction to BaseCamp was also because it was the poster project of Ruby on Rails http://www.rubyonrails.com/ and http://www.rubyonrails.org . I had read Ruby on Rails book by David Heinemeier Hansson http://www.amazon.com/Agile-Web-Development-Rails-Programmers/dp/097669400X/sr=1-1/qid=1162111531/ref=sr_1_1/002-0933589-9181633?ie=UTF8&s=books

3-4 months into my job, when ever I used to get time, I used to read about 37Signals approach to software development. This included a podcast by their CEO, a book called Getting Real and their blog [all this is available on their website referenced above]. Discussions on their approach led me to the word – Agile. I searched Google for Agile and came up with some very perplexing and challenging notions of Agility. The first of these was of course the Agile Alliance http://www.agilemanifesto.org/ which is basically as follows:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

At the same time, I subscribed to the SW-Improve group at Yahoo http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/SW-Improve/ and discovered and went to some of the following websites:

http://www.agilemodeling.com/
http://www.extremeprogramming.org/
http://www.informit.com/articles/article.asp?p=345009&rl=1

After reading a lot, I finally happened to reach SCRUM. What fascinated me about SCRUM was that it was simple and it “claimed” to be a “project management” solution. I quickly subscribed to Yahoo Group on SCRUM http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scrumdevelopment/ and went to various sources on the Internet gorging on the information on SCRUM.

I have studied a course in Manufacturing and hence, understood what flexibility, lean and agile organizations meant. However, it was reading the various literature on the Internet that led me to discover what Agile and Lean is all about. I am not really a master on these but attempting to wrest control from chaos in our organization and my life using Agile [primarily at present I/ we are focusing on a combination of SCRUM and XP: you will also hear about user stories, mindset trainings, agile estimating, refactoring, automated tests and a lot more].

This blog would chronicle some of the experiences that “we” have.

I will try and keep it objective 🙂

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