You are here

You are here

Best of TechBeacon 2017: Agile gets to work

Jaikumar Vijayan Freelance writer

This year, the conversation about agile development shifted from its benefits to the challenges of implementing it optimally. People need a practical understanding of how to integrate agile into their existing environments, which includes examining and refining processes that work and jettisoning ones that don't.

Our collection of top stories for 2017 combines a mix of guidance, advice, and caveats on some of the most important topics around agile development practices today. Among them are stories on project management practices that work, what you can do to get executives on board with agile, hacks for getting distributed agile right, and the importance of "Modern Agile" and "Heart of Agile" practices.

Why hybrid agile-waterfall projects fail

Software projects fail for all sorts of reasons. But those that combine agile and waterfall methodologies tend to have higher failure rates than pure agile projects. Agile consultant Yvette Francino reviews the conflicting findings of two separate surveys to explain why so many organizations still take the hybrid approach anyway, and what they can do to improve their chances of success.

Why your execs don't get agile and what you can do about it

Senior management executives often have a tendency to undermine the very agile projects they champion because of an incomplete understanding of the process and what it entails. Excelon Development managing consultant Matthew Heusser offers the lowdown on the five most common mistakes executives make when it comes to agile development, including a tendency to view agile as a team activity and a penchant for over-focusing on the DevOps aspect.

Modern Agile and Heart of Agile: A new focus for agile development

"Modern Agile" and "Heart of Agile" are two movements that emerged recently in response to the general disillusionment around agile and Scrum. Both intend to change agile practices by making them simpler and focused on four key principles. Agile consultant Yvette Francino explains why Modern Agile and Heart of Agile are more than just marketing hype.

Project management: A surefire way to kill your software product

Software development is not really a predictive or repetitive activity. Imposing a project management structure on the process only complicates matters and detracts from the overall quality of the final product. The constant innovation and learning required for software development is totally incompatible with project management's focus on predictability and efficiency, explains ThoughtWorks' Steven Lowe.

A practical guide to user story splitting for agile teams

Splitting project features into smaller stories can help maintain the cadence of an agile release. But doing it right requires a keen understanding of story-splitting techniques and best practices for story sizes. In this practical guide, Mark Balbes, vice president of architecture at WWT Asynchrony Labs, offers tips on how to get story splitting for agile teams right every time.

Being agile and working smart are not the same thing

Development focus can change throughout a project, so adaptive thinking is essential to the effectiveness of your process. Rather than getting hung up on the best methodology for a particular project, know your team's strengths and weaknesses, when it makes sense to introduce structure into the process, and when it does not. Senior web developer Christian Maioli makes a case for why being agile is not the same as being smart.

Distributed agile teams: 8 hacks that make them work

Making agile work in a distributed environment can be tough, but it can happen. The realities of geographic expansion, mergers, offshoring, and the current job market often require organizations to have a distributed team for agile. Not sure how to do it? Kurt Bittner, vice president of enterprise solutions at, lists eight hacks for making distributed agile work.

The seduction of the two-week sprint

Just because everybody is doing two-week sprints doesn't mean you should also. Two-week iterations might work well for some teams, but they're not for everyone. Some of the common arguments in favor of short iterations, in fact, ignore challenges that teams are likely to face in practice. Blue Agility's agile transformation specialist Anthony Crain explains why mandating two-week sprints for all teams in your organization may not be a great idea.

Why agile teams need to share the product owner role

Making the product owner (PO) solely responsible for defining, interpreting, and prioritizing requirements is at odds with other agile practices, such as collaborative swarming and cross-functional teams. Instead of building a box around the PO function, consider ways to share elements of the PO role with the rest of the team. Comcast senior engineering director Stephen Frein explains how.

Tailoring SAFe: It's not a one-size-fits-all framework

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is designed to provide better governance, coordination, and consistency for agile teams that have hundreds, or thousands, of members. But thinking of it as a one-size-fits-all approach for large teams goes against the very fundamentals of the Agile Manifesto, says Excelon managing consultant Matthew Heusser. Here, he offers advice and perspectives from four veteran practitioners in the field.

What are the top issues in agile your team is facing? We'd love to get experts sharing their experiences in 2018, so let us know in the comments below.


Keep learning

Read more articles about: App Dev & TestingAgile