Monday, December 20, 2010

All the cool kids do Agile …

Agile software development is the big thing at the moment. Looking through the end of year reports for the year, there has been huge growth in the use of Agile processes.

At my company, there has been a huge drive to develop an Agile solutions team, which our boss feels is the best in the country.

I've been spending the last year trying to read up – having had a part Agile solution put on a last project. That project had some difficulties because there was an attempt to cherry pick some “Agile bits” and developers were saying things were “done” when they weren't tested or in a position to be tested (supposedly a big no-no).

Our boss is a great character, but I think without meaning to, has introduced a bit of a “them-and-us” feeling between the Agile team and the rest of us.

If we were in one of those dreadful teen movies, the Agile team would be the Cheerleaders must fawned on by the Principal, and the rest of us the Chess Club. Of course it doesn't help with comments like “that's just so not Agile” etc, it can feel a bit like they're a bit smug and “we're better than you”. Which I know isn't the case, as they're people I get on really well with individually … but all the same it does feel a common perception of the non-Agilers.

One of the problems I've found though with Agile is seeing the wood for the trees. Reading a book on Agile Testing I went through it and was “well about 80% of this is just good testing practices” - the kind you do and call yourself classic Waterfall.

And I suppose this is another of the issues – with Agile practitioners ring-fencing all the good practices as “this is Agile” it makes out if you're not Agile you're not following good practice, and hence some kind of cowboy. Which is a little unfair.

I'm actually very keen on a lot of what I've read about Agile and would love to see it close hand on a project.

But as a tester, I do have concerns. Or is it a suspicious mind? I've seen before ideas come into software for “magic bullets” to improve productivity and efficiency. They're usually good ideas too.

The problem is though these things are often oversold. What then gets taken on is good, but not really delivering all the sales pitch promised, and so good management wants to know why, and bad management want to blame.  And at the moment everyone wants to get on the Agile development bandwagon - it's a kind of Code Rush.

Here's hoping in 2011 I get to shake my pom-poms a bit ...

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