Thursday, May 14, 2015

Does one size fit all?

My understanding of what an Agile process should be has always embraced the goal of creating value through software development as early as possible, while giving customers/POs an absolute freedom to change their minds (i.e., requirements) in the certainty that the Agile teams will promptly and appropriately respond to the changes with the occassion of the upcoming sprint planning session.

From the willing to fulfill both principles, it follows that in each sprint an Agile team should invest the maximum effort to deliver end-user,  functional stories; and the minimum effort to make progress in preparing future functional stories by means of technical stories.

However, some technical stories are an inevitable factor in the equation of a software development process, no matter what kind of framework it may be based on. As an example, technical architecture designs, third party software developments, QA techniques, etc. must always find their place in the PI and sprint plans.

But my case today is about those technical stories that come up as a result of the "traditional" mechanisms that usually make up the corporate operation structures; mechanisms such as non-automated procedures to promote the software through the testing environments, with an overall duration that exceeds a sprint time frame.

According to the Agile principles mentioned above, a Scrum team should ideally be able to produce all the software layers involved in any functional story in the course of just one sprint. Still, reality is stubborn, and the team may have to break down that functional story into several technical stories for the inner layers (those transparent for the end-user: back-end, services...) plus a final functional story (the one involving the diverse front-ends), and to plan all those stories in succesive sprints. Obviously, all those constraints limit the capability of the team to optimize their generation of value for their Product Owner.

With this picture in mind, I would tend to believe that the Scrum methodology only fits small organizations, but also hope that SAFe will help us to deal with these restrictions. All in all, probably it's just a matter of eating the elephant a bite at a time! ;)

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