The boys from RUP (Rational Unified Process) are back. Building on the profound failure of RUP, they are now pushing the Scaled Agile Framework (e) as a simple, one-size fits all approach to the agile organization. They have made their approach even more complicated by partnering with Rally, a tools vendor. Consultants are available to customize it for you, also just like RUP.
They are touting their processes and tools this week at Agile 2013 in Nashville. They would be at the RUP conference, but there are none. They would be at a waterfall conference, but they are no longer. So they are at our conference. Strange, but they had nowhere else to go. Try to be polite.
When the signers of the Agile Manifesto got together in 2001, we wanted to share our ideas about software development, a discussion that resulted in the Agile Manifeto. The very first tenet of it is:
Individual and Interactions over Processes and Tools
We wanted to undo the damage that waterfall had done to our profession, and we also hoped to ensure that RUP wasn’t seen as a viable successor.
In many instances, software development has improved based on the values and principles in the Agile Manifesto. Values and principles scale, but practices are context sensitive. We all know it is hard to improve, but we know that we cannot buy our way to a better future.
Many organizations will open their checkbooks for SAFe and its partners. I suggest that they measure the improvement, as that is the job of management. Investments are supposed to have returns. Measure:
- Cycle time – quickest time to get one feature out
- Release cycle – time to get a release out
- Defects – change in defects
- Productivity – normalized effort to get a unit of functionality “done”
- Stabilization – after code complete, % of a release is spent stabilizing before release
- Customer satisfaction – up or down
- Employee satisfaction – up or down
I’ve developed several programs to help you create these benchmarks, if you don’t want to do it yourself. You can look at one at http://tinyurl.com/kgbn94l.
Keep the values, keep the principles, think for yourself. A core premise of agile is that the people doing the work are the people who can best figure out how to do it. The job of management is to do anything to help them do so, not suffocate them with SAFe.