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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Agile Software Developers Help Please!

I have been reading about Agile Software Development. Starting with The Rails Book. I mean look at the name. My problem is applying it to my current workplace. We already struggle with scope-creep and clients causing projects to drag on and on. Granted some of it is our fault but… Our clients sometimes don’t get back to us on “iterations” or emails/phone calls we send to them for weeks.

One of the Agile Principles is “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.” I agree with that but… here are arguments against being so “agile”. These apply to my current employer but I am sure others are in the same situation.

#1 Scope: Changes in requirements late in development lead to scope creep or scrapping of hours and hours of work. Regardless of your programming framework if you spend 20 hours on something and the customer changes requirements they still have to pay for that time. I know the choice of framework or language can make those changes less painful but it is still an issue. This brings me to my next point…

#2 Time Estimation: If we know the project will be “agile” and all of the above mentioned things can change and we welcome such change. How do you accurately estimate a project? I can see that notifying the client of such a change of scope and time we spent on previous requirements is now null and void is part of the agile process. The problem is, every client I have ever come across throws a fit when you go over estimated time even if it is from their inability to reach a decision about functionality. I have seen how quickly a indecisive client has spiraled a project out of control adding this and that and changing things here and waaay down there. Then, on top of it all they wonder why it took so long and why does it cost $$$ more than we proposed. No matter how much communication we have with them. They seem to have “temporary memory loss” when it comes to the $$ on our time. No matter how many emails, change lists etc. we have to show them.

So for all you Agile dudes who have a lot of real-world practice with it. I would love to hear from you.

I am also learning the agile way so bear with me

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