Another caveat for the erstwhile agile developer

If your objective is a “sense of urgency”, or maybe “time to value”, please don’t think this gives you carte blanche to push patchy, chewing-gum-and-bailing-wire solutions out into production. Expect the expectation that the production systems’ availability level must be maintained.

Confused? It sounds like I’m taking two opposing sides … I want speed and quality, and doesn’t the Iron Triangle force you to pick between the two?

It’s possible, of course, you just need to practice a little discipline. Pay attention to the spirit, not the letter, of the “law”. So how to reconcile the two ideas?

  • Fast, iterative Push-to-Test: If you’re in a complex production environment (like an ERP), use the Test environment to get your iterations in front of your end users / testers. You can get the ideas out there, people can see what you mean, but the ultimate push into production only happens after a thorough, hopefully regressive, test.
  • Segment your Content: If you have decent change management capabilities, you can segment low-risk changes to production (like HTML and PDF files on a web page) from high-risk changes (like DTS scripts that process financial transaction imports). Fast-track the low risk stuff; better yet, completely automate it!
  • Formal Change Management Process: This may seem like old hat to the larger IT groups, but for those smaller organizations that have not experienced the pleasures of SarbOx … a decent change management system (or even a hack one) should track all changes, keep a log of who and when, and make back ups of the before and after – so you can put things back they way they were.

I think, however, the most valuable thing you can do before claiming to be an Agile adherent is to Read the Definition of Agile: Please don’t make the mistake that incremental releases skip or shortcut the testing process!

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James MacLennan

... is the Managing Partner at Maker Turtle LLC, a digital consultancy focused on creating value in ways that align with your strategy and drive engagement with employees, customers, and stakeholders. He is an active creator, providing thought leadership through on-line & print publications, and public speaking / keynotes.