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Scrumban - Essays on Kanban Systems for Lean Software Development (Modus Cooperandi Lean) Paperback – January 12, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book because it's clear, it takes a stand, and Corey clearly states what's his opinion based on his experience. I don't agree with all of it - in particular I have trouble with the feature-brigade ideas at the end - but for walking through the basics of kanban and pull systems, focused on real workflows and not abstract theory, you can't beat it. It's short, concise, and well targeted to anyone who's already familiar with the ideas of Scrum and XP. Anyone who's doing Scrum should come to understand these ideas, to have greater insight into how their process is working, even if they don't implement them. They're useful thinking tools. (You NEED background in agile software development to make sense of this book, though.)
One of the biggest risks with an approach like this - one you -need- to mitigate - is promoting silos and handoffs, after all the work other agile methods have done to break down the walls. Corey notes this in passing - that you want to map the workflow of the work but avoid siloing people into activity boxes - but I worry he doesn't make this clear enough.
I am a lead software developer for a medium sized company with a huge backlog of work and only three developers. I have always had an interest in lean methods in manufacturing and especially in services. It has been hard to see how lean can make the switch from the manufacturing arena to software development, but Corey does an amazing job of showing just how to do it. You must understand that unless you are wanting to make your software development process lean this book it almost useless. What it does do is layout in detail (with images) is how to use a kanban board to create a workflow of features in the life cycle of software development. Corey moves the reader from a brief (thank you) history of lean and lean tools right in to examples of how to use kanban for everyday work.
His ideas are great if you need to lead software development. Even if you are not in a lead position, Corey's book is worth the read to give you some ideas. We have one problem where I work and that is we have too much of a work backlog that has gotten out of hand. Corey describes how to make a kanban that prioritizes the work. That idea alone has been worth more than the $10 price.
If you are in an Agile shop and say we don't do lean, you'll be surprised at how the ideas in the book can make you even more agile and enable you to focus on the most important stories in your backlog. No book is filled on every page with take away's and this book is no different, but - you will not find a better book on creating great workflow for your development team.
A must read!
But I have two big "howevers".
First, why is every kanban and lean thinking book, this included, trying to compare software development to Toyota's manufacturing line? There isn't much overlap between software development and a manufacturing line except the unfortunate terms we use. Software development is all design, even coding is designing instructions for a compiler. The question shouldn't be how we do workflow in a manufacturing line but how do we do design and scale it. Fred Brooks recent book, the Design of Design, has important stuff on that.
Second is where do these nifty roughly equally sized work items for kanban come from? There is little to no discussion in this book (and many other software kanban books) where those wonderful work items come from. Most of my clients have these big feature ideas which take months to years to create with teams of 30 and I need a "feature" that is two weeks or less of work? Where did that come from? Who did that design?
Ladas does a fair job if you accept the two big "however" areas. This book is not for new people just trying to understand scrum and lean. It has a ton on insider references that can throw you off track if you are not familiar with them. Heck, I had to look up a few items and I am pretty well read. If you are a seasoned Scrum coach or aged methodologist, this book will give you good food for thought. Just keep the "howevers" in mind.