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The first complete book on what an enterprise level agile process should look like
on November 26, 2011
I still remember the first few pages of Managing Software Requirements: A Unified Approach (The Addison-Wesley Object Technology Series). I was in BWI waiting on my daughter's flight to arrive. The book opened with such a great beginning I knew I was going to love it. In a nutshell what I heard the authors say was we have years of experience that you don't, let us show you what we have learned so you don't have to repeat our mistakes. That is my number one reason for reading books. The message at the beginning of this book is the same.
I feel this is the first complete book on what an enterprise level agile process should look like. What baffles me is the number of enterprises I have been in that have not come close to implementing 10% of the process this book outlines, yet they call themselves agile and lean. The one thing this book brings to light is just how complex and advanced agile processes are. Like the book says, "it is not easy, it is agile".
This book has the caveat that certain skills are required for the agile teams to be successful. I agree with that completely. The thing I have a hard time with is the fact that agile processes assume such skill sets are readily available. They aren't. That is why I see such a mess in 90% of the attempts I have seen when enterprises attempt to go agile. Almost all of them will claim to be successful at implementing their agile processes, but budgets and bugs don't lie. Agile does not equate to simple or easy, actually the opposite is true.
So then does that mean agile methods should be avoided and this book is not worth reading? Absolutely not. It is one of the few books that may just help you implement a successful agile enterprise environment. If nothing else, it does not pull punches, so it will enlighten you as to just how difficult it is to pull it off. It is a must read for anyone out there claiming to be running an agile enterprise.
This book is unique in that it provides a complete view of all the roles throughout the enterprise that are involved with the process and does a great job of defining the activities they are involved with. The book calls the process Agile Enterprise Big Picture: Scaled Agile Delivery Model, or the Big Picture for short. The process has three levels, the Team level, the Program level, and the portfolio level.
The book starts out with a really cool overview of software development process models. The chapter goes from Waterfall to Spiral, RAD, RUP to Crystal, Scrum, XP, FDD, DSDM, Open UP, Kanban to Enterprise-Scale Adaptive Processes.
The rest of part one dedicates four more chapters to introducing the Agile Enterprise Big Picture: Scaled Agile Delivery Model (the Big Picture).
The book has three more parts, one for each process level. The Team level, the Program level, and the portfolio level. Each part has several chapters that drill deep into the details of each level.
One of the things I really like about the book is that it acknowledges the importance of software architecture. It does not go along with the common agile "emergent architecture" view. The book advocates intentional architecture. It also acknowledges project managers and doesn't just drop them from the picture.
Another thing I really like is that modernization is realized through the architectural epics. Modernization strategies are usually nonexistent in most enterprises until they find it is too late. Then they are implemented in a haphazard way creating so much more damage than necessary. This book makes modernization strategies first class citizens through architectural epics.
If you are in an enterprise environment and you are attempting to implement agile processes, this book is the book to have. Agile requires experience. This book is filled with experience from the trenches. The book is written well and the author's writing style makes it an easy read. As easy as you can make a topic that is so complex.
This books takes all the activities, artifacts, roles, responsibilities, and processes that have always made a successful software development project using classic software development processes such as the unified process and the RUP, and repositions them in their agile context.
All in all I highly recommend this book to anyone working in an enterprise level software development environment. The developer, project manager, tester, software architect, process engineer, business analyst, scrum master, product owner, project sponsor, CIO, CFO, and CEO could benefit from reading this book, even if you are not in an agile shop.