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  • Esther Schindler
    May 12, 2013
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      Howdy, folks. I'm working on an article for ITWorld.com, and I'd like your input.

      The working title is: �Why your users hate Agile software development.�

      Despite the challenging headline -- hey, we have to attract people's attention here -- I am not against Agile. Quite to the contrary. But I do want to see it done WELL and RIGHT and to the benefit of all concerned. My premise in this article is: Agile developers and project managers should have some insight into why Agile causes anxiety and what they can do to minimize that.

      Most developers I know really like Agile. There are a lot of advantages, and I doubt we need to go into what they are.

      Clients and users, however, may not appreciate all those things. They have their own concerns -- and sometimes Agile developers don't recognize them.

      It isn't always the user's fault. Sometimes the users have a _perception_ of a problem that they blame on Agile... for good reasons. For example, I've spoken with corporate users who kept trying to shoe-horn more and more functionality into an initial iteration. That sounds like they didn't grok what "iteration" meant, when in reality it was a response to their own corporate culture: They knew full well that the funding would go away after the "first phase," with excuses like, "We'll do that in phase 2, next spring," when reality taught them that phase 2 never never does get funded. The developers are moved onto some other project and the users never get that must-have requirement EVER.

      Another reason that the users might hate agile: The developers talk to the wrong users. They interview the department managers, who might care about things like reporting, but the developers never have the opportunity to talk to the day-to-day users who might have reasonable requests to improve the data entry process. To those users, "Agile" is just another way to ignore their needs while claiming that the process is to serve them.

      And those are just off the top of my head.

      So I'm writing a feature article for ITWorld about the subject... and I'd like your input. It can be public on the list (which I am sure would be appreciated) or private. Ideally you permit me to refer to you by full name, title, and company or company type ("Esther Schindler, a developer at SRP, the electric company in Phoenix"), but if it encourages openness I'm okay with working with an arm wave ("Esther, a corporate developer in Phoenix").

      * How do you describe the Agile process to a client or user who is expecting something different?

      * What, in your experience, are their big concerns about doing things without a Big Design Up Front process? What about the little ones?

      * What has gone wrong? What would you do differently, in those situations, knowing what you do now?

      * What do YOU think makes users and clients anxious? What do you do to counter it?

      * Please DO NOT spend time telling me how great Agile is. I already know that. That's not what this article is about.

      I do all of this by e-mail, not telephone. I'll also be collecting input all week, with the fond hope that I will have enough to assemble into an article by next weekend.

      --Esther Schindler
      twitter.com/estherschindler

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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