Rapid Development and the Easter Bunny

Monotreme - Easter Bunny? We received Easter candy from our daughter, Kristin, who is living in Australia while getting a master’s degree in Wildlife Conservation. She pointed out on her Easter card that Australia must have been the origin of the Easter Bunny. After all, “Australia is the only place where you find egg-laying mammals (monotremes).” (e.g., the Platypus).

Interesting since I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the tortoise and the hare. You know the old adage – where the hare is fast and quick to the finish line but the tortoise wins the race. Initially one has to think about the “Agile” (i.e., hare-like, fast and hoppy) software development methodologies vs. the old school “Waterfall” methods. Yes – the waterfall methods were somewhat like a tortoise but they were worse, more like a tortoise that had to stop every few steps and wait for the gate to open so he could continue on to the next phase of the journey.

The problem I have with “Agile” technologies is the somewhat “gleeful” rejection of any and all documentation. “We are going to be a small team so we’ll just have discussions and come up with the right answers as a team.” Yeh, right. What happens when you need to do updates to your software. Is this “real” software that has users and a next release? What happens then? How does anyone know what the software actually does if it was designed and developed by committee and no document artifacts remain that accurately reflect the software “as built”.

“As built” documents are key to (1) accountability (for marketing, developers, and QA) and (2) an understanding of what the software is supposed to do so that knowledgeable changes can be made and (3) resources so that Technical Support/Customer Services can answer the call about “Is the software supposed to be doing this

I don’t think “Agile” is “Practical”. See our Requirements Management blogs (Category “Documentation”) for better ideas about how to really be quick-on-your-feet, focused, and develop high quality and low-cost software !

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One thought on “Rapid Development and the Easter Bunny

  1. Hi Jan-
    I love the comparison of waterfall to the tortoise who needs to wait for the stage-gate to open. That’s great.

    You are right that many agile teams jump at the chance to throw the documents out with the bathwater. This is all too common but also all too wrong. Good agile teams write an appropriate amount of documentation where “appropriate” is defined jointly by the team and its product owner.

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