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A Skeptical “No”

Just about every agile video, book, and article I’ve ever consumed assumes some variant of the underlying team model shown below. The product these types of teams build is comprised of custom software running on off-the-shelf server hardware. Even though it’s not shown, they also assume a client-server structure, request-response protocol, database-centric system.

SW only

The team model for the types of systems I work on is given below. They are distributed real-time event systems comprised of embedded, heterogeneous, peer processors glued together via a pub-sub protocol. By necessity, specialized, multi-disciplinary teams are required to develop this category of systems. Also, by necessity, the content of the sprint backlog is more complex and intricately subtler than the typical agile IT product backlog of “features” and “user stories“.

SW and HW

When I watch/read/listen to smug agile process experts and coaches expound the virtues of their favorite methodology using narrow, anecdotal, personal stories from the database-centric IT world, I continuously ask myself “can this apply to the type of products I help build?“. Often, the answer is a skeptical “no“. Not always, but often.

  1. May 5, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Indeed. My complaint, even though though the systems I work on are custom database-centric software running on commodity hardware, is that the perspective often seems to be from within that red circle looking outward. Any idea which starts from that viewpoint has a major flaw – nobody cares about the product, they care about what it allows/enables them to do. When we lose sight of that, we start running into trouble.

    • May 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      Thanks (as usual) for the insightful comment Gene.

      Looking from outside the red circle inward; that’s the Product Owner’s job 😉

      • May 5, 2014 at 4:34 pm

        FWIW, I think looking at the picture from outside the red circle should be everyone’s job. I run into too many people who consider “the business” a life-support system for IT – a dangerous attitude.

      • May 5, 2014 at 5:36 pm

        I’m totally with you on that. The winky face was intended to convey sarcasm with “it’s the PO’s job” mantra.

      • May 5, 2014 at 8:39 pm

        ah…sorry, Richmond’s celebrating it’s annual Tons o’ Pollen Festival and the ol’ brain is only hitting on 3 cylinders…the portion that processes sarcasm is off inscribing its initials in the cement that is my sinuses.

  2. Dave
    May 6, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Well, if your product team hasn’t virtualized all its safety-of-life critical products via lowest-cost system-as-service providers where all new product creation is merely mouse-click selecting software-as-service reusable modules, ya’ll ain’t gonne be around long, anyway. (stong winky crap)

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