Jan 09

Agile Heresies – Change Requests

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Would you use a Ferrari to haul your big bags of mulch for your garden? Would you use a bulldozer to excavate the fossilized bones of a rare dinosaur? Probably not. Those aren’t the right tools for the jobs.

Agile development techniques were designed as a way to “optimize for the common case” – lots of change requests, new(ish) technologies, lots of budget pressure and poorly elaborated requirements.

But what if your project doesn’t fit the common case?

For example, what if change requests were a fairly rare event? What if the expectation was that a change request was a significant “stop” – that the customers, testers, management and everyone else involved were comfortable with the idea of carefully re-evaluating everything about the project, every time there was a change request.

In those sorts of environments, a methodology optimized for frequent, must-get-done-ASAP change is probably not a good fit.

And, more importantly, people who work in such an environment will probably look at Agile and say ‘what an amateurish approach – we have all these wonderful structures in place to deal with change’.

And for their environments, they’re right. But that doesn’t mean Agile is useless, any more than a bulldozer is useless because an archaeologist doesn’t need one to get his job done.

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