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Business Alignment over Engineering Features

Posted in Agile, Collaboration with tags , , , on November 18, 2008 by vikramadhiman

In his blog on Product Management, Saeed proposes a fifth element to the Agile Manifesto:

Business Alignment over Engineering Features

His argument is that developers, testers and even managers treat each feature equally without worrying about how the business makes money. There were some interesting responses to this:

1. Jelena said that this is already contained in the Principles “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project”, and also can be filed under “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation” element of the Agile manifesto. She also goes on to say that sometimes engineering excellence is more important.

2. Others illustrated how product management and development can never reconcile.

I don’t think it is needed to have another element to the manifesto at all. As Jelena said, it is already contained in the principles and also in the elements. If a  Product Owner can not make efficient decisions and guide the roadmap, then the team can’t do anything. For instance, in the firm I work with currently, the Product Managers and Development Managers blend so effortlessely that you wont even notice, who is who. This closely aligns the business with the development. We prioritize, reprioritize vigorously and we make decisions collectively – sometimes development helps us make better decisions [what if we just made a single HTML page rather than all dynamic feature that you want and will take time] and sometimes businesses help development make better decisions [we need a guarantee that whatever was working before is working in future].

In essence, elements basically highlighted the importance of where our focus should be. Business Alignment over Engineering Features places a lot more emphasis on Business Alignment and takes the focus away from Engineering Features. This is also partly wrong – engineering features and excellence in itself is also sometimes desirable.