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Artem is originally from Ukraine, but since 2001 he has been living in Finland, where he ended up working for Nokia first as a Senior and Chief Engineer and lately as a Product Manager. Having over a decade of software development under the belt Artem was working for a number of Ukrainian and Finnish companies, experienced various methodologies, processes and leadership styles. He got acquainted with Agile in 2005, liked the ideas and immediately started applying them in his projects within Nokia. Artem’s main interests are Scrum in general and the ways of establishing productive communication between the customer and development sides in particular. Artem pursues both practice and theory. He was a practicing Scrum Master, now he is a Scrum Product Owner. He is doing his PhD studies on Agile Project Management and from time to time consults and coaches various organizations on the topics of effective software development. Artem also maintains and regularly writes to the web site. Artem is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 3 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

The State of Agile

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Seems like there's lots going on in the agile world right now. Lots of talk about Lean and it's impact on Agile. Lots of attacks going on at the CSM certification. Kanban is all over the news these days. And just last week, I read about a new Agile methodology called Stride.

So how do we make sense of this all?

My opinion is that there is value in each of the methodologies (for the purposes of this blog I'll refer to them all as methodologies even though some of you might not think of them as such). It's real important to read about them all so that you are armed with enough knowledge to know what's out there. I see this as a toolset from which you can choose for your specific situation.


In order to illustrate ....

Scrum is a methodology and process that provides the mechanisms for teams to learn and adapt. Scrum however doesn't say much about the meaning of DONE and how to accomplish that. That's where XP comes in. XP has great practices around engineering discipline. It teaches us all about craftsmanship and producing quality work. I personally cannot see anyone practicing Scrum without at least some elements of the XP toolset. Be it pair programming, TDD, ruthless refactoring, emergent architectures etc.

Lean on the other hand is way more philosophical, but they have great teachings. For example, recognizing that work-in-progress is a liability is huge. If you start to think like this, you're going to minimize work-in-progress and as a result you will improve overall cycle time. With Lean, people come first. What effect does this have on your organization? Well happy teams make happy customers, better quality software, improved work culture.

And Kanban? Well Kanban helps teams with flow (i.e. cycle time, throughput etc) and almost eliminates the need for traditional sprints which I won't get into here (subject for another discussion). So many teams are using kanban boards for controlling the workflow of tasks or stories, or both.

Scrum has also been said to have problems with scalability and cross site development shops. Well Stride in it's infancy (not even sure you can call it an accepted methodology yet) has adapted Scrum to provide capabilities for better handling these sort of situations.

So what do you do?

Well in my opinion Scrum provides the best overall process or mechanism to manage agile project. It's a good base to start with and I would definitely start with Scrum. But you can't go it alone with Scrum. You have to pick and pack from other methodologies till you get what works for you.

I think Agile is evolving and most likely wont stop. And why should it. I want us to get better at it. And there's so many smart people thinking about how to make software development better. I can't wait to see what it will be like in 5 years from now.

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Published at DZone with permission of Artem Marchenko, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Rainer Eschen replied on Wed, 2009/12/16 - 3:35am

I suggest to read the books of Mike Cohn to get into this Scrum + XP a bit deeper. He published an excellent book on Scrum some weeks ago: "Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum".

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