We are not necessarily Agile… but we are certainly agile!

You might have heard this expression before and, if you did, the title of this blog post may be enough for you to understand how Plataformatec works. However, if you have never heard about that or are still interested on how we work and what we value in our projects, stick around and “fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride” – All About Eve, 1950.

Agile, agile. Tomāto, tomăto?

You may be asking yourself: “why in hell is he differentiating two identical words, whilst the only difference is a capital A?”. Well, you are right (but, really, who uses “whilst”?), they should have the same meaning. But after 2001, the year of the Agile Manifesto, everything changed. But first, a little bit of history.

The malevolent Waterfall

The way our industry used to run software projects in the old-days is somehow outdated. It worked for projects in which the probability of changing its tracks was low and, therefore, it was easy to plan everything in advance. Well, turns out Momma Forrest’s quote, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get” – Forrest Gump, 1994, was not only right for life but also for software development projects.

It turns out that the amount of changes throughout a project’s life was enormous, and most of the things that were defined beforehand usually lost their value and were not necessary anymore.

The agile revolution

In order to deliver software faster and more accurately (with more agility), a revolution started to take place in the software development area. In the mid-90s and early 2000s, a lot of methodologies started to be invented and the Waterfall methodology was then deprecated.

To generalize the intention of all those methodologies, some great folks got together in Snowbird, close to Salt Lake City, UT, and signed a manifesto with some principles that they believed were the pillars of an agile software development. The manifesto became known as the Agile Manifesto, and here is where we start using the capital A word.

Agile Methodologies

After the Agile Manifesto, lots of people started to amalgamate different “modern” methodologies in a box called Agile Methodology. After that, eXtreme Programming, Scrum, Kanban, Lean, AUP, FDD and others were part of one big magical box.

Since then, everyone who talks about Agile, is talking about the set of tools and methodologies that were born with the intention of being agile.

The misunderstanding

When we say, we are Agile (or even agile, since we are saying and not writing), people almost always ask: “Oh! So, do you use Kanban or Scrum?”. Agile became a synonym of those practices, but what if we are agile without following any of those? At least not by-the-book?

They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!
— Braveheart, 1995

Well… yes, I’m overdramatic. But still, we don’t follow any of those methodologies strictly, even though we studied most of them thoroughly.

Plataformatec way

We like, and follow, most of the Agile Manifesto’s ideas. We respond fast to change, motivate a healthy and constant relationship with the customer, apply continuous delivery and more. But the idea behind following those is not to be called Agile but to foster the agility culture. We want to deliver work fast and accurately.

Therefore, we defined three values that we follow throughout a project:

  • Predictability
    We want to be able to predict as much as possible, and that is why we have a set of metrics and models that we use to improve our work:

  • Visibility
    That visibility and transparency are good for a project, everyone already knows it. We agree, but we go a little bit further… For us, visibility is not an end, it is a means to an end, which is supporting decision-making, hence generating action. We divide it into:

    • Monitoring
      Constantly monitoring our metrics to help our client and our team to understand the project’s health.
    • Analyzing
      If one of those metrics is out of the expected range, it means we need to act.
    • Acting
      Every week we send a report with these metrics to our clients, along with the analysis and a suggestion of possible actions to overcome the situation.
  • Excellence
    Just predicting and having the process visible would not be enough. Besides that, we strive for excellence. We are nerds that study a lot to deliver the best possible solution. An example of that engagement with excellence is the fact that we have 4 books written by employees and one to come:

Conclusion

We cannot state that we are Agile, since we don’t always follow a methodology. But we can for sure state that we are agile. We gave you just a hint of how we do what we do at Plataformatec, but more blog posts are to come explaining in even more details what we do and why we do it 😉

I’ll be back.
— The Terminator, 1984

What about you? Are you Agile or agile? Leave your comments below!


Download: Forecasting software project through Monte Carlo simulation (FREE spreadsheet)
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  • DAXx85

    One could put a life on prooving something to himself or the rest of the world, but, at the end of the day, time passes by and the only thing that matters after all is the real impact events and actions left on the surface of life. Be agile, keep it real and don’t give a f*ck about titles and regalia. It’s never worth it, especially when you know how to do reall stuff (software) that matters. So, keep it agile all day…