Agile question of the month contest for January 2010
Time for another chance to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate. This month’s theme is “Getting a Fresh Start” so the question is going to be about starting an agile project. This question is simple, but has a lot of nuances which make a complete answer imperitive. Remember, everyone is eligible no matter who they are, but also remember that I am the final arbiter and my decision is the one that counts. Keep in mind that I am a Certified Scrum Coach so that will be my perspective. As in the last contest I won’t be answering questions (much) and please list any assumptions I should make when reading your answer. Please your answer in the comments section below so we can all see it. Also use a real email address when leaving the comment since that address has to be valid in order to get the Amazon gift certificate.
January 2010 scenario:
A friend of yours is the VP of Software Development (highest ranking technical person in the company) at a small software company. He has 9 people who work in his department including a Product Manager, Project Manager, Development Manager (who also codes) a QA Manager (who also tests), 4 developers and 1 tester. Each person does an adequate job but your friend is a bit worried the Product Manager doesn’t really understand marketing and the QA Manager seems to always be at odds with the developers. The newest team member is the Project Manager brought on board about 6 months ago. The developers have all been with the company for a minimum of 2 years. The tester is a very recent addition with only 4 months of experience with the team. The QA and Development managers are long time employees of the company. The Product Manager has been with the team for 2 years but was “promoted” from being a developer. The team has worked extensively with Java but their next project will be done with Ruby on Rails.
Their development process is classical waterfall and they have all of the classic problems. The last release was a total disaster being 6 months late on a 12 month project and exceeding budget by nearly 100%. The company creates software which costs each client over $200,000. The company has a small number of clients but the last project cost them 15% of their installed base. At this point the CEO has made it very clear the next project needs to be successful or the company will be out of business.
Your friend has asked for your advice because he knows you are an agile advocate who has been successful with it. He has about 4 weeks before the team needs to start the next project (they are waiting on some hardware upgrades before starting) and he wants to use that time to maximum advantage in getting the team ready to proceed with agile. At the end of the 4th week the goal is to start working on a 6 month project to deliver a completely new module for their base software which will hopefully expand their potential client base into a new market. Your friend doesn’t know much about agile, and no one on the team or in the rest of the company knows much about it either. He feels strongly it is his only hope for real success and the team has agreed they need to try it.
How would you advise your friend to proceed over the next 4 weeks and during the 6 month project?
I am looking for answers which are as specific as possible because I anticipate many of the answers to this one being very similar. It is a much easier scenario than last month, but this month’s theme is “Getting a Fresh Start” so this seems like a good question to start the year off!
This contest ends at 11:59pm Mountain Standard Time on January 31, 2010.