Click here to close now.


Apache Authors: Pat Romanski, Jim Scott, Jnan Dash, Craig Lowell, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Java IoT, Industrial IoT, Microservices Expo, Open Source Cloud, IoT User Interface, Apache

Java IoT: Blog Feed Post

Four Tests to Determine If You Are Following Agile Development

Do you necessarily have to have a small, co-located, cross-functional team to be able to claim that your process is indeed agile

Am I the only person who thinks that we need a clear, well understood and unambiguous determine if the development process that you are following can be classified as Agile development process?

Do you necessarily have to have a small, co-located, cross-functional team to be able to claim that your process is indeed agile? If you go by what agile thought leaders are saying then “small”, “co-located” and “cross-functional” is no longer considered a necessary condition for classifying a process as agile.

Agile 1.1Indeed, the answer to the following questions is no longer an outright no.

  • Can agile process scale to a large team size?
  • Can distributed project team claim to be using agile development?
  • Can off-shored projects work on agile mode?
  • Can agile development co-exist with CMMi?

Obviously, to be able to answer “yes” to these question we would need to come up with a process which different from what you would have followed for a ”small”, “co-located” and “cross-functional” team. Now, how would you determine if this modified process can indeed be classified as a agile development process?

Without suitable tests the discussion would boil down to your opinion pitted against mine.

Can agile projects fail?

Without such a test you can always argue that the project failed because the process chosen was not really an agile development process and that is why the project failed.

Without suitable tests there is no way to counter such an argument.

I prefer “A” over “B” but “B” is also important

I am not criticizing the agile manifesto. It is brilliantly piece of articulation … it conveys, without being explicit, how agile processes are different from the “heavy weight” processes prevailing in 2001.

However, it does not help us in determining when a process can be classified as agile and when it ceases to be agile.

Minimum common denominator

Is it possible to take the popular agile development processes like Scrum, XP and TDD and find out what is common the minimum common denominator and use that as a test?

There are 2 problem to this approach:

  1. Which methodologies would you choose?
  2. Would you find significant commonality?

Selecting list of mandatory practices

There is a growing list of practices which are classified as agile practice – daily stand-up meeting, continuous integration, pair programming … the list is quiet large.

Is it possible to choose from the list a set of mandatory practices – a necessary condition for a process to be considered as agile development process?

Again, there are 2 problems:

  1. Coming to a consensus on what is mandatory practice is a difficult task
  2. What happens when an new and better practice emerges as a substitute for one of the selected practice?

Four Tests to determine if you are following an Agile process

Test 1: Software is developed in iteration regularly delivering working code

I think this test is beyond any debate! Nobody … nobody would claim a process to be agile without an iterative approach. Iteration without working code is meaningless. Working code also implies continuous testing.

Similarly, iteration without feedback is again meaningless. So, regular feedback from users is mandatory.

But beyond that there are many variants to iterative approach.

  • Should your iterations be of fixed interval?
  • Do you need to have a process of continuous integration?
  • Is it necessary to have an automated regression test suite?
  • Should you focus on always having a potentially shippable product?

These are all good practices, very important in certain situations, but not necessarily applicable in all situation.

Test 2: Never say no to change because it is not there in the plan or because it involves rework

Indeed, there can be many valid reasons why you may have to say no to change.

  • The impact of the change may be very significant, involving huge amount of extra work disrupting other planned features.
  • The value of the change may not sufficient to justify the effort to incorporate the change.
  • The change may be inconsistent with the way the rest of the software is expected to work.

There can be many other reasons for not accepting the change or deferring the change for later.

But, refusing a change because it is not there in the plan or because you have to discard parts of code which you have already done is not an acceptable reason in any process that claims to be an agile process.

Test 3: Accept that everything cannot be explicitly specified

Typical traditional process would work as follows:

  • A requirement analysis would be done and a software requirement specification document would be prepared
  • User will go through it and approve it
  • The software would be built and tested according to what is written in the document
  • User will try the software and claim that several important features are missing
  • Development team will claim that they have not been specified
  • User will claim that they are obvious

This approach is unacceptable in any agile process.

It is not that documentation is not important. What is unacceptable is to insisting that everything has to be explicitly documented.

It is like Japanese approach to communication. In western culture when A communicates something to B and B has not properly understood it then A is to be blamed because he did not check if the understanding is correct. In Japanese culture, the blame in on B because B did not ensure that his understanding is correct.

Test 4: You follow only those processes which you have found it to be of value under the given circumstances

If you have gone through an exercise of spring cleaning you would realize that how every object you pick somehow looks useful and you do not want to throw it.

Same thing happens when you are given a super-set of practices and asked to choose what you should follow. This is the approach followed by all heavyweight processes including RUP. Every practice in isolation would look useful.

So, any process which claims to be agile start with bare minimum practices and allows the project team to choose practices which will add real value in the given circumstances. It also has mechanism of having a regular introspection which allows discarding practices which has not proved its worth.

In Lean parlance it is called maximizing the work not done.

What do you think?

  • Are these tests have any value?
  • Are they relevant?
  • Have I missed out any important dimension of agile?

I am eagerly waiting for you feedback.

More Stories By Udayan Banerjee

Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...

  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting

@ThingsExpo Stories
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound cha...
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...