Are you agile?

Chris_QPW
Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
I have debated about sharing this, but I'm going go ahead hopefully it will be taken in the right "spirt".  And sorry it is going to be one of my long winded posts.

In 1990 I took a job to rewrite the configuration/build software for a company.
There build was taking 4 days, and the most common statement from developers when they were presented with a bug was "Its the build!".  And even though not all of those problems were the build, they were right most of the time, and that is enough that no one trusted the builds.

The problems were a mix of complex manual procedures and managers/developers constant wanting to jack that process around.  Like if the a developer caused a build failure the guy building it had to find him and prove that it was in fact his problem, and then the developer would push the guy building to "restart" somewhere in the middle of all of that process.

Well between automating the process, and doing the build in parallel on 10 machines with multiple build threads per machine I got that process down to 4 hours and it was "start and wait till finished".  And the build was never the source of the "bugs" again.

Now I come to the point of this discussion.   As one might expect the developers did mess up from time to time and cause the main build to fail.  And as one might expect the developers/managers would come to me and want me to "skip this part that shouldn't be needed".  I think I did that about once of twice.  That's all it took to learn my lesson.

When you have a process, especially an automated one, the risk of "skipping parts of it" is FAR greater than waiting on the full process.  Those few times I gave in ended up taking far longer in the long run.

The point is that it is very tempting to be "agile" and push things out "fast", but it has been my experience that it is much more important to establish a good process and stick to it.
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Comments

  • Rocket J Squirrel
    Rocket J Squirrel SuperUser, Windows Beta ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 23
    Today's young whippersnappers, honestly. When I was a software development manager, we used Waterfall*. And we liked it.** And somewhere between Analysis and Design, if we were really serious (and I was), we'd throw in a grueling but immensely worthwhile Wideband Delphi session.
    The question with Quicken is what is the best process to use with old legacy software? Waterfall is a long slow process, and Agile is just a way to get bugs released faster. Ever seen an actual scrum? As in rugby? It's kind of a mess and I wouldn't name a development method after it.
    We've seen what happens when new features are bolted on to old software. I'm not aware of a process designed especially for legacy software. I wonder whether anyone's come up with a good one.
    * We really used Modified Waterfall, meaning we could jump upstream like a salmon if necessary.
    ** OK, we didn't like it that much. But it worked well with Object Oriented Analysis & Design.
    Quicken user since version 2 for DOS, now using QWin Premier Subscription on Win10 Pro.
  • Sherlock
    Sherlock SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Interesting. I took on a similar responsibility at a few jobs.  Once you have the tools...

    Unfortunately, the goal of being agile is to save money not to provide a stable product.  
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 23
    I never thought Waterfall was something to brag about either.
    Many times have I seen the nice gantt chart showing "on time" through, 25%, 50%, 75%, 90%, and then the last 5% take more time than all the "percentages" before it!

    Not to mention the "1 man week" parts taking 1 man month.  Or the starting with 10 people when 20 were really needed, then get to the very last and management trying to "speed it up" by adding those extra people at the last moment.  Which of course slowed it down even more because the people already on it are now expected to teach the new people how to get started.

    And then there is insisting that top down is "best" or "bottom up" is "best" when in truth a core working system should first be created and then built on.  I have seen projects have 95% of a non working project "done".  Oh and don't forget to watch out for "Well first we will start with a prototype, and once we know we really know what they want we will make the real thing."  Prototypes are great, except once people see them even if there is basically nothing behind them, management tends to refuse to throw away that code.

    As you can guess I'm not, and never was a manager.  I'm not a fan any set of words that describe a process and have people believe that is it.

    I'm sure "agile" can work right for the right project, but even more importantly with the right management/process.

    You can also mess up any of them by not sticking to what works for you, because you have to hit a deadline or the customers complaining or something like that.
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  • Rocket J Squirrel
    Rocket J Squirrel SuperUser, Windows Beta ✭✭✭✭✭
    Chris_QPW said:
    Not to mention the "1 man week" parts taking 1 man month.  Or the starting with 10 people when 20 were really needed
    Right. That was what Wideband Delphi was designed to prevent. Not many development organizations knew about it. I had to introduce it more than once. Its result was a set of estimates that the team agreed on. And its bonus side-effect was that when it was over, everyone understood the requirements. :)  Estimates are still estimates, but when you need to pitch a schedule to higher management, it helps to have consensus about what the project is and how long each requirement will take to implement.
    Quicken user since version 2 for DOS, now using QWin Premier Subscription on Win10 Pro.
  • NotACPA
    NotACPA SuperUser, Windows Beta Beta
    edited January 23
    Back in the mid-80's, when I was a Check Processing development manager, my team got assigned to develop a new "data distribution system" as the interface between check capture and the posting applications.  This is all mainframe code, mostly COBOL, but a lot of Assembler also.
    When we had looked over the user specs, and brainstormed about the effort required, we told management "6 to 8 months".
    The reply was "how about 4?"  We maintained "6 to 8 months".  They said "we'll get back to you".
    They came back about 4 weeks later and said "the project's a go.  You've got 4 months ... and they started a month ago'.
    The project actually took 7 months.
    Q user since DOS version 5
    Now running Quicken Windows Subscription, Home & Business
    Retired "Certified Information Systems Auditor" & Bank Audit VP
  • Jim_Harman
    Jim_Harman SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    I think an important factor for a product like Quicken is whether the developers, testers, managers, and as many others in the company as possible use the software themselves.

    QWin Premier subscription
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    I think an important factor for a product like Quicken is whether the developers, testers, managers, and as many others in the company as possible use the software themselves.

    Nice idea except when most of the developers live in a country the product doesn't support.
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  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    I think I owe the Quicken Inc Development Team and apology for this thread.

    Its starting to look like I did what a lot of people do and connect two possible unrelated events together.

    This thread is of course expressing the idea that I thought that the problem with messed up file type associations was caused by "not following their procedure" and rushing out the R31.6 patch release.

    First off that was a wild guess on my part, and second it seems that it might not have been that patch release that caused the problem.

    There are no reports that for people that haven't received that patch they are having the problems too.   What's more it seems that using the Lifetime Planner or the Tax Planner is triggering the problem too.  What these have in common is that they use IE libraries to display ActiveX webpages.

    Something really strange is going on at a low level.  Strange enough that it might even be related to a Windows update or something like that.
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  • Sherlock
    Sherlock SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Chris_QPW said:
    I think I owe the Quicken Inc Development Team and apology for this thread.

    Its starting to look like I did what a lot of people do and connect two possible unrelated events together.

    This thread is of course expressing the idea that I thought that the problem with messed up file type associations was caused by "not following their procedure" and rushing out the R31.6 patch release.

    First off that was a wild guess on my part, and second it seems that it might not have been that patch release that caused the problem.

    There are no reports that for people that haven't received that patch they are having the problems too.   What's more it seems that using the Lifetime Planner or the Tax Planner is triggering the problem too.  What these have in common is that they use IE libraries to display ActiveX webpages.

    Something really strange is going on at a low level.  Strange enough that it might even be related to a Windows update or something like that.
    I, for one, did not think this discussion was related to the R31 staged release issues but to the more general bleeding edge approach.  My concern with the change from the 3 year product model has been the instability that has always existed on the current year product which we're all now being exposed to regularly.
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    Well yes it was about that but I have to admit that what triggered it is this last incident and that sort of what I'm apologizing for, jumping to conclusions that I can't actually verify.
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