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Zero requirments, zero design ...

Publié le 03/06/2013

I’m working in « agile » environments since at least 4 years now. I’m not a Scrum Manager, of course, and as an architect I have a rather less important involvement in Scrum. Actually, I’m not at all focusing on project management methods, in spite of having attended a CMI2 training session a couple of years ago.

I remember that the first time I’ve participated to a Scrum project I was amused to see them playing with users’ stories on colorful post-its and I’ve thought “plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose”.  Now I got used with that, as well as with the stand-ups that, in the beginning, I found quite ridiculous. But recently, I’ve been in a project where I was really surprised to notice that, for some people, “agile” means working the nose into the grindstone, riding as maniacs, without really knowing where they go and iterating and iterating and iterating …

As an architect, I think that phases like the requirements analysis and the design are very important in a project lifecycle. I don’t like this idea, often promoted by Scrum advocates, according to which it is not worth spending time in recessing requirements or doing design, but rather jump on the keyboard as soon as the first idea crosses one’s head and starting to implement it, before even knowing what exactly has to be implemented.

In this project I’m talking about people were thinking that it’s no worth doing design. The decisions were taken based on conversation between two doors or at the coffee machine. The “design” was done on a corner of a table. I even saw a couple of guys doing architecture sketches on the garbage container in front of the building, while smoking.

The result of such projects is not surprisingly very disappointing. Instead of taking a reasonable time to figure out things and to determine the optimal path to hot the project target, some “agile” advocates are going in circles to the target, spending 10 times more than required, because of the circular work. I’m not saying that a long design phase of 6 months is mandatory, but any project, as simple as it might be, needs a reasonable time dedicated to the design process. I don’t believe in “zero requirements, zero design” projects success.

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