Common Threads – Tools

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 – 5:14 AM

This got me thinking…

“High Altitude Mountain Climbing has many characteristics similar to Insurance SCM [Software Change Management] and Agile development methods in general. When you climb high-altitude mountains, you do it with a small team, there’s a window of opportunity to do the assent, it requires flexibility, it is adventurous, and it can be dangerous. Sounds like many of the Agile teams I’ve worked with! When a climbing team gets to a dangerous part of the climb, many times they will decide to rope themselves together. The benefit is they won’t fall to their death if they slip, but the cost is that it will slow the team’s progress, which can cause the team to fail to reach the summit. Insurance SCM tools and processes are like roping your team together. They often decrease team velocity but protect you from disaster. There are three factors to consider when assessing the value of an Insurance SCM enhancement: Likelihood of the disaster, Consequence of the disaster, and Cost to put it in place, maintain and use it. Some examples of Insurance SCM include periodic integration builds, code security, restore capability of prior releases, associating change requests to code, management of code dependencies across releases, etc. ”

CM Crossroads – Right-Sizing Software Configuration Management for Agile Projects

In more general terms both climbing and software tools, process and ceremony reduce the likelihood of failure at the expense of velocity and agility. They may also slow forward progress by adding “weight”.

More experienced teams may be able to get away with fewer tools and less process and/or ceremony. This allows them to proceed faster toward their goal trusting in their abilities and experience to make up for the reduced margin of safety.

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