Consulting and Scrum

posted on 2004-12-14 at 08:19:10 by Joel Ross

Steve Eichert asks the question: Are clients read for Scrum? I say yes. Being in the consulting world for a few years now (almost 5 - not a ton of experience, but enough), I've seen companies slowly make the change from looking at things from the waterfall approach to a more agile methodology.

Why are they open to it? Because they've been burned by the Waterfall approach - or those implementing it have been. Remember, most consulting companies (at least ones worth dealing with) will do whatever it takes to make things right - even if that may mean losing some money on the deal. Customers see this and start to get an understanding of why the waterfall approach isn't the ideal way in some cases.

So just because they've been burned by the waterfall approach (can you be burned by a waterfall?) doesn't mean they automatically turn to an agile approach, does it? Lots of people were burned by gas prices in the '70s, but we didn't turn to other transportation options. We optimized cars to use gas better. So you're really left with two options: 1.) Optimize the waterfall approach, or 2.) try something else.

That something else is an agile approach. How can that appeal to a client? Well, from the client's perspective, they can better budget for it. I know that sounds odd, but I believe it. If you start from a burn rate (X developers times Y dollars per hour times 40 hours a week equals a weekly burn rate) and a budget, you know exactly how long the project will run. The question then becomes functionality. Using an agile approach, you prioritize those features, building the most important ones first. So now when your budget runs out, you may not have everything, but you have your top priorities, and probably (unless your budget and functionality are way out of whack) most of your medium priorities in a usable system. So you don't get the low priority ones, but those can be left to be done after launch.

On the other hand, if something goes wrong with the waterfall approach, such as the time estimates being wrong, you may be left with an unusable system. Why? The waterfall approach doesn't prioritize development in line with feature priority. So, using a waterfall approach, writing a caching solution that uses background processes to expire cache may be scheduled to be written early in development as part of the application framework. But that's not really a customer-centric feature, per se. That's more of an implementation detail. If those types of tasks take longer than expected, you may end up with a complete framework, but no application to sit on top of it. That's bad.

So far from what I've written, it sounds like it should be an easy sell. It's not. Customers do have an ingrained tendancy towards the waterfall approach because that's what has been preached to them for so long now. It will take a while to get them to come around to the agile approach. And the way to do that is to become a trusted advisor to your client. If they trust that you know what is best for them, then they will listen to you when you say an agile methodology is the best approach.

Categories: Consulting


Another Ambient Orb Solution?

posted on 2004-12-13 at 23:22:36 by Joel Ross

Engadget has a story about BT's Research Lab's ambient orb of their own. But instead of it using an FM network to carry the signal and, thus a subscription (like this one), this one uses WiFi access to get it's information. And it's voice activated!

I think this orb would be the way to go for my build statuses!

Categories: General


MSN Search Roundup

posted on 2004-12-13 at 23:13:47 by Joel Ross

Here's my round up. I still can't use it. Either than Scott over at Scott on Writing. And I'm not sure I even want to know what the Slashdot crowd has to say about it.

Just kidding. Hopefully Windows 2003 support will be there when it hits 1.0, but for now, I'll rely on others:

Categories: Software


Redgate SQL Packager

posted on 2004-12-13 at 17:44:02 by Joel Ross

I've used SQL Packager to test out a way to build our databases and it worked pretty well. I'm not going to do a review, because I haven't used it enough to do a full review.

But Mark Vermeulen did a full review of it, and gives it a pretty good score. From what I saw of it, it was pretty solid.

Categories: Software


MSN Desktop Search

posted on 2004-12-13 at 13:58:55 by Joel Ross

So the big news Scoble talked about is MSN's new toolbar. But not just the new toolbar. It's the new toolbar with desktop search included.

I downloaded it, ran the installer, and my reaction? It doesn't install on Windows 2003. So I can't tell you anything about it. It says I need to "upgrade" my windows version to Windows 2000 or Windows XP. Doesn't sound like an upgrade to me.

So my initial reaction isn't good. Most software seems to work under Windows 2003 even if it's designed for Windows XP. I wonder if there's a good reason why it won't work on Windows 2003.

Incidentally, Media Player 10 doesn't install on Windows 2003 either.

Categories: Software


Turning Caffiene Into Code

posted on 2004-12-13 at 01:09:01 by Joel Ross

Yeah, it's my favorite line from one of the DotNetRocks shows, but it's fitting. Dan Fernandez has a post that lists out the caffiene content of many popular drinks. Personally, Mountain Dew is the drink of choice (It must be - I even know it's homepage!). Given that I'm not a coffee or tea fan, that pretty much leaves the Mountain Dew family. While the original will always be the best, I actually do like all of the others - Code Red, Livewire, and the newly released Pitch Black.

Anyway, the next time you're looking for a quick pick-me-up, check out the list, and pick from the top. If you're like me right now (about to go to bed), try something from the bottom. Or, as my wife is constantly telling me, just drink water! Of course, my argument is that water is the top ingredient of Mountain Dew! And an interesting fact - Orange Juice is number three! That qualifies it as a breakfast drink, right?

Categories: Personal


Scoble Says To Watch Channel 9 Tomorrow

posted on 2004-12-13 at 00:42:17 by Joel Ross

Robert Scoble is causing a buzz around a new Microsoft product set to be released tomorrow.

He even links to two tools set to be released tomorrow: MOOL, and the MSN Toolbar suite. To me, it doesn't sound like he's saying either are the tool he's talking about. Yeah, the toolbar could be it, but last week he said he was speechless after seeing it. I know Scoble loves technology, but speechless over a toolbar? Nope, not likely. But he has been talking about desktop search a lot lately.

On top of this, MSN is having a conference call at 10:00 AM PST that anyone can call in. Then Scoble says watch Channel 9 at 10:30 PST tomorrow. Darrell Norton (who has the news of the conference call) agrees with the desktop search conclusion.

By the way, MOOL looks very cool. Enough for me to start using Hotmail again? Maybe. Maybe not. Unfortunately, most of my Passport activities happen using a Passport account with a non-hotmail address. That means I have to sign out of that Passport account and into another one just so I can check an inbox of spam. So I haven't been using it lately.

Categories: General


Link Blogs Force Better Content?

posted on 2004-12-13 at 00:16:18 by Joel Ross

Since I started using a blog specifically for posting content that others have written that I find interesting (my link blog), I find that I am more discerning about what I actually write about. If the post does a good job explaining itself, then I don't need to add a comment to it, so it just goes to the link blog.

Because of that, I tend to write less posts (today being an exception). But I think the posts I do write are more thought out and written better. Of course, that's a matter of opinion. But I at least feel like what I do write is better than what I wrote before I started the link blog. Or at least provides more value. Before I would write something just to link to the other post, adding minimal input. Now, I just drop the post, and move on.

For this to work though, you have to also read the link blog, or you'll end up missing things that I normally would have pointed out here.

Categories: General


Clean Sources

posted on 2004-12-13 at 00:01:40 by Joel Ross

Do you ever zip up your source code, and email to someone, only to have it bounce back because your zip file was too large? Then you realize it has the executables and debug files included in it?

Well, someone else had this same problem. So they created Clean Sources, which allows you to right click on a folder and tell it to clean your source directory. What does that mean? It removes the binaries, debug files, etc. that aren't needed when you send someone else your source code. It's a nice little tool.

Categories: Software


Developer To Designer?

posted on 2004-12-12 at 23:20:50 by Joel Ross

Julia Lerman provides a link to Mike Gunderloy's newest book - Developer To Designer. I'm reading through Coder To Developer right now (slowly, as usual), and it's a great book with a great list of tools in it. The website is a good resource too, as it has links to most of the tools in the book.

The new book is going to be right up my alley. It's designed for people like me. My designs are horrible, and I could use the practical knowledge this book can provide. It'll be a book I get as soon as it comes out.

One side note. The description talks about how in a perfect world you let the designer do the UI for you, and that no one lives in a perfect world. Well, based on this, I do! My past two projects (three, if you count Tourney Logic) have been done by these guys, and they do an awesome job! Basically, I get a template of a page, and then integrate it into the working code. And voila! We have a "pretty" design!

Categories: Development


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