Monday, March 22, 2010

Review: Succeeding with Agile

In Succeeding with Agile, Mike Cohn gives organizations a handbook for how to succeed using Agile practices and principals. If you are picking up this book, keep in mind that he assumes you have some experience with Agile before you begin. He starts the book by presenting some agile adoption patterns then discusses how and why those patterns are resisted by individuals within the organization. Next he spends a number of chapters explaining new roles and how existing ones change in an organization after agile practices are adopted. I particularly like when he describes a practice, or role, in detail; then steps back to discuss how it will affect each role in an organization and how to overcome resistance. The remainder of the book covers additional topics about agile adoption that aren't large enough to cover a chapter themselves. By the time you get to chapter 20 he is discussing "Human Resources, Facilities, and the PMO." I especially liked the end, "You're not done yet." - these practices are always evolving and growing.

I think this is a great reference and guide. However, my only real disappointment with the book is that it makes agile adoption seem very complex and scaring. If you think about it, you have to be a pretty large organization before "facilities" is powerful enough to get in the way of adopting business practices. Having read a number of Mike Cohn's previous titles I feel he is now writing for large organizations only. Of course, as larger organizations are beginning to take Agile seriously this kind of book is necessary. Thus, my guess is that this book will be quoted in many conference rooms in the future.


This is another book that I wish had been written 5 years ago since it would have saved me time explaining the "big picture" in coaching situations. If you have been building software using agile practices for some time already I would not suggest this book to you. However, if you are in the middle of, or trying to refine the practices you are already using, this is a though book that goes into the right amount of depth.

:: Originally Posted on Pathfinder Development's Blog ::

Friday, March 12, 2010

Who values your product and do you value them?

We have reached the most critical point on a project I'm working on. After a few months we think we know enough about the domain and application to build a product road map that will take us to the first public release. The proof of concept is complete. The design team has created a remarkable, genera changing product. Additionally, the system is designed around real users we have been able to talk to and get feedback from. We have put together an unbelievably good development team and built a backlog of stories with estimates. We have been here before. Putting together a design and backlog of stories is something we have done countless times...

The easy part is over. Now the hard part begins.

Our research and user feedback tells us we have multiple potentialcustomer groups we can build the system for. On one hand this is great news. We have a number of potential markets to choose from. On the other, we don't have an infinite amount of time and money to build it for all of these groups. We have to commit and go all in with one group. Right now, these are just some of the questions we are asking ourselves now:

  • What customer group do we value the most?

  • What features do they value the most?

  • How expensive is it to build the ultimate product for each group?

  • What is the minimum viable product we can build for each group?

  • Which group is most likely to give feedback and partner with us to help refine our product?

  • How much feedback is this group likely to give you?

  • Are we missing some market window by passing on one group v.s. another?

This is a critical point in the product's design. Whichever user group we choose will be our customers. Or another way of saying it: They will be our ONLY customers. Other customer groups aren't likely to be interested because we aren't building any features for them yet.

When designing a product do you consider what customer groups you are including and excluding? Are you going to be happy with that choice for the foreseeable future?

:: Originally Posted on Pathfinder Development's Blog ::