Read an Excerpt
Why We Wrote This BookTrue believers represent software development alternatives
In the last few years, two ostensibly conflicting approaches to software development have competed for hegemony. Agile method supporters released a manifesto that shifts the focus from traditional plan-driven, process-based methods to lighter, more adaptive paradigms. Traditional methods have reasserted the need for strong process discipline and rigorous practices. True believers on both sides have raised strident, often antagonistic, voices.
This book is for the rest of us
We wrote this book for the rest of us—those caught in the middle of the method wars simply trying to get our projects completed and accepted within too-tight schedules and budgets. We hope to clarify the perplexity about the roles of discipline, agility, and process in software development. We objectively compare and contrast the traditional, plan-driven approaches to the newer, agile approaches and present an overview of their home grounds, strengths, and weaknesses. We then describe a risk-based approach to aid in balancing agility and discipline within a software development project.
Our goal is to help you in your business environment
We hope that this is a practical book. It is intended to be neither academic nor exhaustive, but pragmatic. It is based on our own development experiences, current and past literature, long conversations with proponents of agile and plan-driven approaches, teaching students how to balance discipline and agility, and years of observing and measuring software development in industry, government, and academia. We discuss the subjectmatter absent a need to choose sides. Our goal is to help you gain the understanding and information you need to integrate the approaches in a manner that best fits your business environment. Who Should Read This Book The perplexed—or just curious
This book is for perplexed software and management professionals who have heard the buzz about agile methods and want to separate the chaff from the wheat. Perhaps you have a CMM- or ISO-certified organization and want to know if and how agile methods can help you. Or perhaps some part of your organization has adopted agile methods and you are unsure of how they should fit in. Fundamentally, if you need to understand how the latest software development approaches can help meet business goals, this book is for you.
- Software project managers and mid-level executives should read this book to understand the agility/plan-driven controversy and learn how best to apply the new approaches in your organizations.
Software developers should read this book to better understand how your field is evolving and what it means for your career.
Computer science and software engineering students should read this book to better understand how to make choices about your own level of discipline, both in school and at work.
Academicians should read this book to understand some of what your students are asking about, and how to help them make informed decisions.
Proponents of both agile and plan-driven methods should read this book to dispassionately look at your opponent's ideas.
CIOs and CEOs should read this book to help you understand what's going on in the software world and what implications it may have for your company.
Most of you are busy people, and "must-read" material attacks you from all sides, 24/7. Some of you want to quickly assess the material for later reflection. Others want to know how to implement the concepts we present. For that reason, we've tried to make this book easy to read quickly but with pointers to more in-depth material.
In a hurry? Use the fast track for a quick overview
If time is short, use the fast track summaries to scan the total content of the book, stopping to read things you find interesting or particularly applicable to your needs, and following the icons for specific technical information. If you find you need even more detailed material, there are references as well as a list of additional resources in Appendix F.
First and last chapters are key
You can also tailor your reading through chapter selection. Reading the first and last chapters gives a pretty good idea of the material at a familiarization level. You can read the chapters in any order. Here is a quick summary:
- The first chapter sets the stage for what follows. It introduces the main points and provides an executive summary of the book.
Chapter 2 compares the agile and plan-driven approaches and provides insight into the type of projects where each has been most successful—their home grounds.
Chapter 3 provides an experiential introduction to the approaches by describing how both a typical and not-so-typical day might be spent using each.
Chapter 4 presents two project case studies that illustrate the limits of pure agile and pure plan-driven implementations and the benefits of integrating the approaches.
Chapter 5 describes a risk-based approach for making methodology decisions that integrate agile and plan-driven practices, and illustrates it with representative examples.
Chapter 6 summarizes the material and offers some final observations.
Appendix A provides top-level descriptions of the major agile and plan-driven methods, highlighting their primary distinguishing factors, and a summary of those factors for comparison.
Appendices B-E provide technical and background information to support our analyses and speak to specific technical topics.
Appendix F supplies references and the endnotes are listed by chapter in Appendix G.