Agile, ALM, and Agile 2.0 — Putting the Cart Before the Horse???

Imagine my surprise when Agile 2.0 was “announced” at the recent EclipseCon 2013 in Boston. Here I am thinking the simple tenets so clearly outlined in the The Agile Manifesto of 2001 have yet to be fulfilled by most software organizations more than a decade later. Sure, some organizations may comply in form, but not in true spirit or fact. And yet, there were eager consultants on hand ready to shrink wrap the “next and better” version of Agile, Agile 2.0.

Speaking of selling chickens still in shells, an august panel of industry giants laid out their recent improvements and plans for ALM products (Application Lifecycle Management, for those not in the know). These guys dazzled the audience with how they’ve moved far beyond simple source code repositories and testing tools to a complete integration of all modern software practices. Quite a coup, indeed, since most real live software developers I’m seeing out there today still aren’t using the practices automated by the ALM tools. Jeffery Hammond from Forrester sees it the same way. He polled software developers and found 18% didn’t even use source version control. Another industry insider later told me he’d polled the people at his talk about testing: How many of them used test driven development, acceptance test driven development, OR behavior driven development? Note his was an OR question, not AND, and that everyone in the room developed software for a living. Only three out of the some 100 people in the room raised their hands.

In other words, many software developers aren’t using practices such as test driven development or source version control. Yet here are HP, Microsoft, and IBM announcing new ALM tools that automate more advanced practice in areas not even in use in the first place. Unbelievable.

If more of the software developers complied with the practices needed to develop a complete increment of software, we might have something to automate. They don’t, so there are few practices to automate.

And this is when ALM industry revenues are $5-7B per year. Rather than pushing the next iteration of ALM for future use, let’s put these revenues to work now helping developers learn how to use modern practices. Further, this money should go toward creating work places where these practices are encouraged, perhaps even mandatory.

So, perhaps, ALM has the cart before the horse? Who knows? I’ve had my head down working with developers for so long I may have missed something, like that Agile 2.0 release that snuck by me.


28 thoughts on “Agile, ALM, and Agile 2.0 — Putting the Cart Before the Horse???

  1. Thanks for speaking out about this, Ken. I couldn’t agree more with what you’re saying here. From what I’ve seen so far (i.e. video recordings from the AML Summit presentations), “Agile 2.0” just seems to be a bunch of “arbitrary keyword-based marketing blabber.”

    I feel like they have completely missed many of the key points about the whole Agile process; especially in the parts where they speak about the roles of the Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog and Product Owner/ScrumMaster.

    It will definitely be interesting to see where this goes.

    Kind regards,

    – Leif (

  2. Good observation (from a newb standpoint). I am just getting up to speed on Scrum & Agile and feel (through my current job hunt in gaming) that it hasn’t been fully adopted yet. Maybe it’s been out there long enough that the masters of the Scrum feel like it’s time for a new release!? Who were these folks that were spouting “Agile 2.0 has arrived!”?

  3. @Ken: Very aptly said! We are still struggling to have the basics correct & we see newer tools getting promoted as Agile 2.0. Unfortunate – but that is what marketing is all about I guess! Duh! No harm is bringing newer set of tools, but lets not confuse people by calling Agile 2.0. Please use ALM 2.0 or whatever suits the need – but not Agile 2.0 please, we still have work to do to ensure we have started following 1.0 by heart. Giving such buzz words for the name – may make people think they have already missed the train & need to jump immediately in to the Agile bandwagon – without even realizing the core values. If that happens, we are going to head for a state – where we will see ALM 3.0 – but Agile 0.

  4. Thank you so much speaking out. The amount of hype driven selling is really jaw-dropping.
    When case after case (punctuated by a rare management+team who sincerely try to do it right) where people say “Oh we do agile/Scrum” and all is see is a large dose of Scrum-but.
    I’m sick of the phrase “Agile transformation” and not content with this we now have “Enterprise Agile Transformation!” , yeah right! and pigs have wings.

  5. I agree. And the scary thing is that people do love moving forward without having fulfilled the previous steps. So there will be armies of Agile 2.0 professionals who do not even understand what Agile is. They will confuse Agile for the ALM products, a bit like thinking that Scrum is Jira with a plugin. Maybe you guys that signed the Manifesto should all speak out? Or maybe in the Stacey graph you should add another element: stupidity.

  6. Completely losing out and violating the first tenet of Agile Manifesto i.e. ‘Individuals and Interactions OVER Process and Tools’.
    I have implemented Agile framework on projects where the development technology is an outdated and doesnt have these CI tools available in the market for increasing the efficiency… but still Agile ways of working has helped them.
    As rightly said by replied by many – “these chaps are sellers of technology – (ALM tools)” and will foster a new breeds of ‘so-called Agilists’ who would think that using ALM will make any project/programme Agile…

  7. I suspect that the target users that ALM vendors have in mind are like themselves; fairly advanced users who are using the existing practises. They’re certainly not dumb enough to spend money producing stuff that no-one wants or needs. (NB I’m an IBM employee, but not in SWG and have no inside knowledge, and of course speaking personally).

    Certainly if you are doing effective and auditable traceability, tracking each story through its lifecycle, automating integration, test & deploy from effective config management & source control then having it integrated is helpful. And that’s where Rational (et al) play, with the national+ scale banks, telcos and retailers of this world. It’s not representative of the entire developer universe, but it’s big enough (and certainly in terms of spend on software) to make it worthwhile.

    • But Martin – its kind of given that most projects where possible would use (and are using) any existing ALM tool. The point here is – ‘it looks like that the owners of these tools are proclaiming to be the owners of Agile now and are saying that these tools are the silverbullet for being Agile’

  8. The funny thing is, that those tools are not even commonly used at those big companies. I have insight into a big blue organisation and all those fancy tools are not in use there because their customers don’t want to pay for them. It’s just marketing. Maybe some of the agile founders should make some more comments like this article about Agile 2.0 so that the crowd is getting the message.

  9. We should be widening our view to more than just software development. Agile practitioners need to implement new business processes that match the software. The UK Government is rolling out Agiel (slowly) but Agile 1.0 is not enough to insure against Water-Scrum-Fall.
    See here for the challenges recently identified in public services going digital:


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  11. I agree. I’m not sure if this is the case where people can just skip a step and dive into Agile 2.0 without passing through “Agile 1.0”, but right now I really think it’s not.

    ALM solutions help people to adopt good practices, but that alone isn’t sufficient. Truth to be told, there are a lot of technologies that lack a good branch coverage tool, cyclomatic complexity reporter, etc. And a lot of technologies where you need to redo all the 12 Labours of Hercules in order to extract that kind of information from your source code.

    There’s audience for Agile 2.0, I’m sure of it. But it’s limited, and to expand it we’ll need to get more people to know and practice Agile.

  12. I agree with this article, but I wonder if the exclusion of technical practices from Scrum was a major contributory factor to where we find ourselves.

  13. 18% not using vcs. That is a lot. Would like to know what kind of audience this was. From my point of view the usage of ALM might actually encourage people to use the aforementioned practices (test automation, continuous integration, etc.) more as it creates homogenous framework, base, and buy-in for the practices and tools in larger organizations.

  14. Agreed, the term “Agile 2.0” is mere marketing fluff. Instead, let’s agree that “Agile” is a philosophy and framework in which to develop software, and the specific nuts-and-bolts include things such as test-driven development. ALM may help to document an agile process, but it does not replace it, and using an ALM in no way makes an organization or team agile.

  15. Nicely put! I keep telling folks that you cannot boil the ocean as it only annoys the fish. When most teams still cannot do even the basics it is hard to buy in to the value of heavy tools and onerous processes that already assume you are at a CMM Level 4 or 5 in maturity. I agree, can we just get folks to do the basics? Even getting teams to do retrospectives and leveraging even 1 thing they’d do different / better the next sprint can be a challenge for some. The challenges of version control, test harnesses, continuous builds, etc. seem to be the same today as they were 20 years ago. I’m still surprised the traditional project management vendors (Microsoft, PlanView, etc.) haven’t put out their “Agile Template Packs” yet to claim that waterfall is really the new Agile 2.0…

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  17. I couldn’t agree more! Last month one of these companies went demonstrated one big and complete ALM solution, and the representant said they’re using “Scrum 2.2”. I never heard about that… I ‘googled’ Scrum 2.2 and found out only references of this company. And now I found your post.
    Now, please: is there a Scrum 2.2 version? Am I that unaware?

  18. Pingback: Agile, ALM, and Agile 2.0 — Putting the Cart Before the Horse? » EppsNet: Notes from the Golden Orange

  19. That’s a nice write up. We recently switched to Countersoft Gemini and got some good results in going all-in with Agile development.

  20. When you have big programs (>100 developers) you need tools to help organizing your practices. I don’t buy this Agile 2.0 whatever-that-means… but I did believe that having a ALM helps on transparency, backlog grooming, prioritization, trace-ability, automate your process so developers are just worried on adding value, and not on how to merge (that’s an issue for the tool).

    Of course, if you buy a tool, but you don’t trust on 100% test automation, continuous integration/deployment, then you are just planning to loose money.

    So, the tools are just that, tools. Tools help people. Then it’s up to companies to buy every single marketing campaign, or to be worried on how software is developed.

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