Archive for Business Value

Business View, Learning and Evolution

Posted in Business Value with tags on July 14, 2007 by vikramadhiman

Viewing IT project [howsoever small] as business projects is one of the fundamental shifts that we as a team have noticed since we have been exposed to agile methods.

Earlier we used to treat all projects from purely technical viewpoint, not considering enough the problem what we are trying to solve from business perspective. Our role as solution providers was about how we implemented a cool AJAX feature; used service oriented architecture or used n-tier architecture successfully. Rarely, if ever did we consider that will the system attract many users, will users browse beyond the first page, would search engine bots come to the website and get so confused that they would never index more than 5 pages. All this has changed ever since clients have been sitting next to us as we develop and the focus has been on people who will use the system to do the tasks rather than on “users”.

Another offshoot of the business thinking has been to plan activities using concurrent design methods from first sprint itself. We do not optimize the website for search engines/ usability only after the website development is over. It is an on-going process. Although it means that something does not get built overnight, but when it does, it’s generally robust and scalable.

We do however realize that we can not possibly get everything done at the outset itself. Some things you learn only after the system has been in use. However, we are happy that we are on a cycle where we do learn it each time and have something new to contribute every time. It keeps the team morale high and the client is more than delighted. Now only if we could learn to get there just right enough each time and on time, it would be great.

Release Planning and Business Value

Posted in Agile, Business Value, Release Planning with tags , , on July 4, 2007 by vikramadhiman

Is it important to think of Release Planning in the same breadth as Business Value? Our readings and discussions over the last week seem to suggest – Yes.

Generally speaking, a release can comprise of one or more sprints/ iterations.

  • Can we make an assumption that a sprint really is a release?
  • Can we release something every sprint? Also, is release a product release or just a demo to a client ?

Like all Agile Development practices, it seems that the idea of keeping track of sprints and releases separately has its origins in product development. However, it also seems true that all the projects can probably benefit from this not so subtle difference. Even in these days of software as a service [http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/architecture/aa699384.aspx] the importance of planning a release can not be overlooked. Release planning really is just a collection of stories organized in order of priority and bunched together so that each such collection can be released [i.e. end users can start using the website]. The sprint however is just a collection of stories that the team hopes to complete within a given time period. However, even at the end of a successful sprint you might not have a product or software that you can release for use by potential users or subset of users.

This is where Release Planning comes in. The emphasis of release planning is business value. The team should not think that a sprint and building features by priority is enough to give a business value. The business value comes from getting users to use the software [or probably want to use the software]. Anything else, no matter how organized and dynamic an environment it creates, does not work from an Agile perspective.