Following the most recent “Agile, Iterative and Waterfall” web seminar, presenter Tom McGraw addressed some of the FAQ’s that may arise while a team is transitioning from Agile to Waterfall. With this transition becoming a popular trend and many companies following suit, we thought that these questions and their answers were too good not to share!
FAQ: Agile to Waterfall by Tom McGraw
Our organization is beginning to move to a more agile practice. Many people seem to be of the impression that agile does not have or require documentation. Can you describe the role/type(s) of documentation are best in an agile environment?
Although Agile values “Working software over comprehensive documentation”, it doesn’t mean there should be no documentation at all. Oftentimes, having the right Agile tool for your process can solve this problem and retain the necessary information. With that said, if the documentation has a customer, or provides value to you and your team, it should not be discarded entirely. Documentation that is never reviewed in the future, has no value, and has no ‘end customer’ is documentation that should be discarded. There is a helpful, brief video from one of our Agile SME’s that may provide additional insights on this topic:
- http://vimeo.com/26817089 (Bill Gaiennie)
Are sprints a combination of random enhancements as well as iterations of a larger requirement?
Sprints and iterations in most cases are synonymous. Organizations can adopt their own Agile processes which in some cases can differentiate the two based on certain criteria (i.e., multiple sprints can be a part of an iteration). The two terms really arose through the formalizations of specific Agile flavors. As an example, Scrum names the increments in development ‘sprints’.
Can you explain epic story vs. user story? What flags a story as epic?
Epic stories can be used differently and understood differently across various Agile teams. In short, an epic story is more than likely some large user story that may not be able to be implemented without being broken down into smaller pieces. There are no true widely-accepted defining criteria for what would be considered a ‘user story’ versus an ‘epic’.
What is typically outlined in a client’s contract if the development work is using an Agile method?
There’s limited information at this point, because of the few contracts written for Agile projects. Most organizations do not bid contracts using Agile terms, and they’ll even translate into hours instead of the story points in some cases. Few RFP’s require responses with Agile terms, and it may be up to you to determine based on the scope of the project outlined if an Agile approach is the best approach. With all of that said, there is an increasing number of requests that include a requirement for holding some sort of relevant Agile certification (CSM, ACP, etc.)
Can changes within the current iteration be acceptable too?
This can be difficult to answer because it is highly dependent on your current processes. In many cases sprints and iterations are synonymous, and in some environments, sprints may make up a larger iteration. If there are changes mid-iteration, I’d be highly cautious of the impact that can have on other planned story points to be completed in the same iteration. If the right controls are in place and there is truly a need to make a change during the current iteration it can be acceptable if managed appropriately.
I missed the first 3 identifiers of agility, can you restate those
Sure, the first three identifiers of Agility, as discussed in the presentation are “Frequent Deliverables”, “Adaptability to Changing Requirements”, “Shared Responsibility”. More information for each of these characteristics of Agile teams is on the slides, which should have been provided to you via email after the presentation.
Can you point us to some online free resources to read through the best practice to follow for Agile project.
Well, I’ll start with ours at ASPE.
A number of Agile-related white papers and documents overviewing practical implementations can be downloaded on our free resources page: ASPE-SDLC Free Resources
Now, if you are a member of an Agile community (i.e., Agile Alliance, Scrum Alliance, PMI), those organizations typically provide countless resources shared amongst the community.
PMI provides a ‘Reference Materials List’, which lists many of the well-recognized readings and resources available pertaining to Agile: Reference Materials for PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Examination