The Agile Methods Fray

The Agile Methods Fray - SOFTWARE TECHNOLOGIES The Agile...

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90 Computer In Computer ’s January 2002 issue, Barry Boehm presented a fresh look at a set of software development methods often referred to as agile or extreme programming (“Get Ready for Agile Methods, with Care,” Jan. 2002, pp. 64-69). This favorable assessment by one of the software establishment’s leading lights prompted the latest of several e-mail dialogues between Boehm and software luminary Tom DeMarco, who strongly advocates that the software establishment begin mov- ing toward agile methods. Michael Lutz, Area Editor FRAMING THE DEBATE Tom DeMarco: Barry, I was delighted to see you leap into the agile methods fray. Before you came along, the matter seemed to be framed as a debate over the resolution that agile methods are good and should be adopted in place of our current Fxed processes. Those on the pro side—Jim Highsmith and others—argued that the current approaches are broken and should be replaced. Those on the con side—Steven Rakitin, for example— said that agile approaches are just hacking by another name and that we shouldn’t abandon our disciplined processes now that we’re Fnally getting them right. I look at these two camps as the res- olution’s Trotskyites and czarists: The Frst camp argues for revolution while the second camp remains determined to retreat “not one millimeter” from the line drawn in the sand at CMM Level 3.621. Your article found a sen- sible middle ground, identifying some baby to be saved and some bathwater to be replaced. Barry Boehm: Well, Tom, I’ve been delighted to capitalize on your neat characterization of the “agile methods fray” in terms of Clausewitz’s coun- terpoint between armor and mobility in military operations. Unfortunately, what we see in both software develop- ment and military operations is a ten- dency for the pendulum to swing back and forth between extremes. Yet in most cases, we need a balance between armor and discipline and between mobility and agility. Actually, though, I would say that the leaders in both the agile and plan-driven camps occupy various places in the responsible mid- dle. It’s only the overenthusiastic fol- lowers who overinterpret “discipline” and “agility” to unhealthy degrees. DeMarco: Amen to that. It’s fortu- nate that our Feld’s practitioners are better at Fnding the sensible middle ground than are the professional advo- cates. Since you are our industry’s Frst champion of risk management, I do wish you had presented agile versus tra- ditional process in terms of risk. The agile methods provide a tradeoff between speed and risk. So they are not inherently good or bad, but they trade off between one thing that is good, speed , and another that is bad, risk . In choosing an agile approach, the man- ager says, “I will sacriFce some sure- ness about eventual successful completion to improve my odds of fast successful completion.” This tradeoff
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The Agile Methods Fray - SOFTWARE TECHNOLOGIES The Agile...

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