Monday, November 8, 2010

Questions for Our Panel Speakers

Manoj Vadakkan
Susan Block
Dave Grabel
Janet Bartz
Jane Shellum
Pam Johnson

Question: How do you make sure that Agile isn't used as a fire extinguishing tool?
Answer by Pam Johnson: Understand the priorities first, go from there and don't fight fires.

Question: Where do you start estimating? How do you kick off the process?
Answer by Manoj Vadakkan: Estimation should continue as is if it's working. Try small projects and iterate on them.

Question: Can a project be too Agile? Moving ahead without enough requirements definition?
Answer by Manoj Vadakkan: It's like an iceberg. You start at the top (prioritized), and as you get deeper it can get bigger. That's fine.

Question: How can Agile techniques for integration and package delivery?
Answer by Susan Block: We have to understand how integration as a product is brought into development. Analysis exercise to elicit the stories to deploy the configuration or integration. Need to have stories to cover that work.

Question: Multiple customers and conflicting priorities? Does Agile work?
Answer by Pam Johnson: Bring all product owners in and have a prioritization session. If that doesn't work, escalate it up towards higher level.

Question: Is it possible to perform Agile business analyst tasks even when project is still formally waterfall?
Answer by Susan Block: I recommend that you look at your big requirements phase and break it down into prioritized functionality. What will add the most value? Maybe you can make the case to provide just enough requirements instead of "all."

Question: Does Agile make sense for projects without a major customer facing component?
Answer by Pam Johnson: Yes. Customers are whomever you're doing the work for. Can be internal.

Question: How do you get team members to work outside their primary skillset to enable swarming?
Answer by Susan Block: Very hard to do, but try leveraging a bonus criteria for team members who are stepping outside their role. Give a carrot of promotion or rewards as a motivator.

Question: Does the business have to colocate with the development team?
Answer by Janet Bartz: Shadow the business people. My personal view is you have to have the business people with IT. It's so much more powerful. You can feel that somethings different where we are. It's tangible. Forget the throw-it-over-the-fence mentality.

Question: Executive support and Agile. What actions would you recommend for teams who want to move to Agile but don't have the support of upper management?
Answer by Manoj Vadakkan: Ask the business the question of why they want to go Agile and what are the reasons?

Question: What kinds of IT software initiatives are not Agile-appropriate?
Answer by Susan Block: Support issues and infrastructure projects that are cut and dry.

Question: How do you get the business to let go of big business requirements documents?
Answer by Jane Shellum: Nobody likes fat requirements documents. They come out of fear of not having all your bases covered. Easy to let go once you understand how Agile works. No such thing as scope creep. Scope change. Then prioritize the total list.

[This article was originally published at]

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