Categories
Agile

Customer value of development team consistency

We’ve nearly completed the process of handing responsibility for the internal system we’ve developed to an outsourced team, and I found this comment from our customer/user representative interesting:

“I have to spend so much of my time discussing how everything should work now. With the old team, I could just describe what we needed and I knew you’d understand what I meant and come up with a good solution.”

Let’s hope there’s enough continuity in the new team for them to build up a similar relationship. Of course, turnover of people (and hence depth of domain knowledge) is one more thing that you lose control of when you outsource a project.

Categories
Java

It’s official: two generations out of date

Sun released JSE 6 today, and some of us (for reasons beyond our control!) are still using 1.4.

Still, an as-yet-unknown new project beckons in the new year, so who knows?

Categories
Agile General nonsense

Scrum for cats

For some reason Twiglet seems fascinated by Ken Schwaber’s Agile Quality talk.

Twiglet watching Ken Schwaber

Categories
Agile

XP Day photos

I see Adewale Oshineye has posted some excellent photos from XP Day. Fortunately all you get to see of me is the back of my head (and hard as it may be to believe for those that know me, I’m not deliberately hiding my face in the second one!)

Love in the Age of Software Are Your Tests Really Driving Your Development?

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Categories
Agile

XP Day 06

Here are some notes from the recent (excellent) XP Day conference. This is based on my internal BT write-up, with a few company-specific bits removed.

Categories
Agile Software

Integrating Selenium with Exactor

We use Exactor to automate acceptance/regression testing for our web application. This is fine for most things, but once we started introducing DHTML and AJAX features, we found that Exactor (or more specifically the version of JWebUnit that it uses behind the scenes) couldn’t handle testing them.

The obvious candidate for testing these enhanced features was Selenium, which uses a real browser to perform its tests. We wanted to stick with Exactor though, for a few reasons:

Categories
Agile

Process as a Substitute for Competence

An excellent post on Kill the Meeting, pointing out the insane amount of bureaucracy you end up with when writing code is treated as an unskilled production line activity.

On one recent project, the software development managers insisted on a 5-page requirements definition document, two management reviews of that document, a functional specification with four contributors, a peer review and a management review of that document, a detailed design document, a management review and sign-off of that document, and a test plan before development could begin on the code.

The code in question? Five lines of SQL.

Yes, a 2-hour project took over a month.

Some of that sounds horribly familiar from past projects. What’s the betting that the people writing and reviewing the documents could have written the code themselves in a fraction of the time they spend ‘saving money’ by contracting the work out, if only writing code wasn’t treated as a menial task to be discarded on promotion?

One issue with the conclusion though:

Unfortunately for me, I don’t think this is a process I can change here. It turns out that outsourcing development to India is so much cheaper that even if it takes four times as long, it’s still a net savings.

Even pretending that the offshore developers were free, that only holds true if the time spent in-house doing all the design, documentation and reviews was no more than eight hours, which sounds unlikely. To my mind, outsourcing software development to release your own people for ‘higher value’ work only costs in if you outsource the lot, from requirements to delivery. Otherwise you end up employing the same number of people just to keep the cheap developers on the right track.

Categories
Agile BT

BT agile awards (2)

Hot on the heels of the presentation for ‘best overall application of the agile manifesto’, we’ve just heard that we won ‘best overall application of the agile values’ for quarter two. BT’s agile values, incidentally, are the same as the values of of XP, ie communication, simplicity, feedback, courage and respect.

Categories
Agile BT

BT agile awards

We had a team trip down to London yesterday to pick up our BT agile award for ‘best overall application of the agile manifesto’. We got a certificate each, a trophy for the team and a card signed by the top bods in BT’s IT division.

Categories
Agile

The Blue Peter problem

A colleague recently posted (on an internal wiki, so unfortunately I can’t link to it) about the problem of people thinking that common agile “tools” such as whiteboards, index cards, freehand burndown graphs etc are a bit “Blue Peter,” and therefore not professional. He made a good suggestion, which was that you provide teams that are new to agile with official branded materials (story cards, pre-printed blank burndown charts and so on). They will accept these more readily, and will then embrace the underlying ideas and start using any old flipchart or whiteboard.

Here’s another argument for simplicity – admittedly from the world of TV fiction – which I’d put to people who think low-tech solutions are somehow not fit for purpose.