Business as usual

There was an ad for Siemens immediately followed by an ad for some product by Bayer. When the news show came back on, they were talking about how some families had already received insurance payments from Allianz Insurance. I started thinking — all these huge corporations helping regular people with their problems in so many ways: Big business at its best.

Business as usual

I deal daily with developers that espouse the value of agile development methodologies. Having come from a development background myself, I am skeptical about all that is said about agile.

In saying that, I do see some benefits — especially the first principle of continuous and incremental delivery of software.


Let Business as usual quickly review the highlights of the agile manifesto … Individuals and interactions over processes and tools, Working software over comprehensive documentation, Customer collaboration over contract negotiation, Responding to change over following a plan.

Now let us consider the realities of bespoke software development. The project cycle starts with your organization given a set of requirements from a client and you having to provide an estimate to deliver to the requirements. As soon as you commit to a fixed price, scope and duration, there is effectively no room for agile.

Depending on feedback, you cannot adjust the behaviour of the application — you will likely blow price, scope or duration — most likely all of them. In PRINCE2, there is emphasis on the business case being continually evaluated to ensure the outcome is still desirable.

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It cannot therefore accept the first principle of agile development. There must be a process that states the requirements and any changes to the baselines and their impact. This can then be evaluated by the project board to evaluate whether the project is still desirable.

Working software over comprehensive documentation is a dangerous prospect in my opinion. Whenever there is squeeze on project time, documentation is usually the first casualty.

Business as usual

This may produce working software at the time; however, it adds untold grief once it has been delivered. While I never enjoyed documentation as a developer, I learned to live with it as a necessity of quality work. Responding to change is often trumpeted as a major gain of agile approach.

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Self organizing teams are put forward as a strong productivity source and one that can do away with a traditional project manager. These however do not take into account the inter-relationships between the projects, ability to analyze the impact of the changes to baseline, ability to hand over to an IT organization from project to Business As Usual BAU.

Both recognize that you can only plan so far in advance. In that respect, there is some compatibility between the two.

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I see great value in utilizing some of the agile principles during the development phase of the project. Once I as a project manager assign the work package to the development team leader, if they use agile techniques to deliver within their tolerance levels, who am I to object?

Beyond the delivery stage of the project, I do not see agile meeting the requirements and expectations of executives and management to contract development services for a fixed fee.

In comparison, ITIL is probably more aligned to agile approach — especially during service operation stage.Watch Flashpoint - Season 2, Episode 1 - Business As Usual: A CEO is taken hostage after a mortgage scheme goes bad and the team is called in to resolve the situation.

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