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Agile Projects and Requirements Management

Taking the live approach

This is Part I of a Three-Part article. Look for Part II on March 17.

In the last few years, some of the most widely adopted best practices from software engineering, especially the adoption and refinement of Agile methods, have significantly reduced software development risk and increased project success rates.

However, most of these best practices are founded upon an assumption that the enterprise is able to create and maintain a well-insulated environment around software developers. It has been proven that to outperform with Agile methods, R&D people must “live together” in a stimulating environment with few or no distractions relating to progress reporting, discussions with management, document fulfillment, and so on.

As an example, consider the approach to gathering XP requirements (“user stories”). The customer (or user) should be an integral part of the development team, answering developers’ questions in real time, rather than an external entity. However, this is rarely achievable in practice because very often “the customer” is actually a company with thousands of employees spread over several countries around the world, and having a complex definition and approval processes for requirements.

Furthermore, agile teams meet very often to decide what they will achieve in the next few days or even hours. But such “best practices” can drive managers and C-level people "up the wall" in a very short time! These people need long-term planning and strategic corporate governance of project costs. They need milestones and deliverables, not a day-by-day assessment around “what will we achieve today?”

The Live Approach [Liv] to project information handling can help companies reconcile these disparate but equally vital needs. Three major areas of interest around Agile Software Development can benefit from the introduction of tools supporting the Live Approach: corporate governance, requirements management, and project management. Any such new-generation tools and methods must make requirements engineering, project planning, and corporate governance directly involved in software R&D, while keeping the R&D teams "Agile", and not adding extra work or distractions.

The Live Approach is not a methodology like XP, SCRUM or RUP. Rather, it is a set of guidelines whose aim is to define a possible roadmap for software development environments and tools to make them open to support different development methods with a higher degree of usability, and able to provide “Live” information about project status.

More Stories By Stefano Rizzo

Stefano Rizzo is the Product Manager at Polarion Software. He has some 13 years of IT consulting and mentoring experience in several different business areas including Finance, Telecom, Software, and Government. As a mentor he has helped dozens of big companies introduce new development processes and methods. As a teacher he has trained thousands of people in UML, Requirements Management, and Agile development. As a methods evangelist he has helped hundreds of companies to share his vision about collaborative software development. His actual focus now is researching and developing methods and best practices for Agile and Live software development processes. Stefano holds a degree in Computer Science and a University research background in Software Engineering.

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Most Recent Comments
SYS-CON Italy News Desk 05/05/06 09:38:31 AM EDT

Agile methods have proven their ability to improve project success rates - but there is still some pretty wild, yet-to-be explored territory. For example: how can we gain powerful control over project progress and costs, support information traceability, and still keep our process Agile? This paper presents the Live Approach and discusses how it can resolve this dilemma.

SOA Web Services Journal News Desk 03/10/06 11:50:13 AM EST

Agile methods have proven their ability to improve project success rates - but there is still some pretty wild, yet-to-be explored territory. For example: how can we gain powerful control over project progress and costs, support information traceability, and still keep our process Agile? This paper presents the Live Approach and discusses how it can resolve this dilemma.