24 February 2009

Agile or Plan Driven?

A couple of years ago software development luminary Barry Boehm teamed up with project management guru Richard Turner and write a book called "Balancing Agility and Discipline" which explored the plan driven and agile process debate.

Among the gems in the book they present a model for determining whether you should run your project as plan driven or agile. Here's a personal example for one of my projects.

It's simplified for the pupose of this blog post, but you'll see there are five dimensions by which you are encouraged to assess your project. How big and risky is the project? What are your capabilities?

Depending on the answers to these questions you end up in one home territory or another. In some instances you fall into an 'in-between' state. In which case you are encouraged to start with the home ground bias you have identified and modify the process to suit the circumstances.

Personal - Team member capability
  • Very high capability > high capability > Average capability > Below average capability >Low capability

Criticality - Loss due to defects
  • Comfort > Discrtetionary funds > Essential funds > Single life > Multiple lives

Size - # of people on team
  • 2 > 3  > 10  > 30  > 100  > 300
Culture - bias to chaos v order
  • 90%  > 70%  > 50%  > 30%  > 10% 
Dynamism - % change in req's per month
  • 50%  > 30%  > 10%  > 5%  > 1%
How is does your current project map to this profile?

1 comment:

  1. Craig,

    I take some issue with contrasting Agile vs. Discipline, but that was not your call I know. Still, at what point does this become "use your head"? Do the charts and plotting really help? Do they even mean anything? It's like "give a man a fish vs. teaching him to fish..."

    Lately I have been taking issue with the over-analysis in the Project Management world and while I understand that charts (GANTT included) give people comfort and a feeling of authoritative direction/status... seems like it is just a way to sell books (and diet pills, etc.)

    A pretty graph, or set of graphs, are easy to digest and easy on the eyes, but I think there is too much cookie cutter stuff out there already and that it is detracting from the real issue: do you know what your options actually ENTAIL?

    I don't think there will ever be a "methodology picker" that is accurate all the time, while I do think that understanding the methods available is invaluable.