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29 June 2010

We recently invited Dr Ken Collier ( down to New Zealand to work with our development team.  As you can guess from the name of his website Ken is an agile kind of guy.  And not one of the crop of recent converts  – he has been working in agile almost as long as he has in information management.

There were some fascinating discussions.   WhereScape has always been a “rapid” development environment, and very much in alignment with the Agile Manifesto:

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:

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

And the associated principles:

Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

We follow these principles:

Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer
through early and continuous delivery
of valuable software.

Welcome changing requirements, even late in
development. Agile processes harness change for
the customer’s competitive advantage.

Deliver working software frequently, from a
couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a
preference to the shorter timescale.

Business people and developers must work
together daily throughout the project.

Build projects around motivated individuals.
Give them the environment and support they need,
and trust them to get the job done.

The most efficient and effective method of
conveying information to and within a development
team is face-to-face conversation.

Working software is the primary measure of progress.

Agile processes promote sustainable development.
The sponsors, developers, and users should be able
to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

Continuous attention to technical excellence
and good design enhances agility.

Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount
of work not done–is essential.

The best architectures, requirements, and designs
emerge from self-organizing teams.

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how
to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts
its behavior accordingly.

But there are certainly things we can do to better support common agile practices.  As a data warehouse development environment we cannot and should not attempt to provide project management functionality, but we can look to see how we can better enable an agile project.

This is the key reason we are working with Ken, and the first deliverables from these discussions are being worked on now.

Getting back to the title…one of the many things Ken talked about that resonated with us was the concept of being constantly deployable.  To illustrate the point he challenged us with “What would happen if we cut the funding on your project at the end of the week?”  It is a question that really got to the heart of being agile - nothing about scrum, sprints, continuous integration testing etc etc – but a question about BEING agile.

It is certainly a question we will ponder on our own consulting engagement and best practice guides, and one we will use with our customers who want to be more agile. 

Watch this space for more information on how WhereScape will enable agile practices.  We will see what we can do to help you if someone asks…. are you ready to deploy this afternoon?


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