Agile 2008 – Agile on Very Large Projects

Thursday, August 7, 2008 – 7:36 PM

Bas Vodde’s talk on Tuesday “The Trouble With Component Teams And An Alternative“. The title is somewhat obtuse, but the talk was great. Essentially he was talking about the problems with scaling very large projects when the teams are focused around the components of the system rather than the features. He had a really good model as to what happens in the two approaches and how component alignment creates problems.

The model we adopted on VSTO was based around features and very similar to what Bas was discussing, although he’s not a fan of the Visual Studio teams’ use of branching to isolate code, nor the fact that we didn’t integrate at the end of every iteration. We also had a master product owner and product owners for each of our seven teams. In our case it would not have been practical to have the master product owner provide stories for all six or seven¬†teams to the level granularity they would have needed to execute within an iteration. Having a single product owner also raises contention issues as the same single person is required to resolve product issues on all teams.

I had a really good hallway conversation with him later. I also went to a talk the following day by some people who’d been forced to align their teams around components and encountered a lot of the problems Bas described – quite a validation of his theory.

Bas and Craig Larman are writing a book, “Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Successful Large, Multisite & Offshore Products with Large-Scale Scrum” on very large scale agile projects. You can read the chapter that covers the Feature Teams approach on InfoQ. I’m really looking forward to the book (due out in December) and hope to read the online chapter on the flight home.