Saturday, December 22, 2018

Proces alphabet: Adapt to Context

Draft version  

See also Process Alphabet


The diversity of any real process goes beyond the reduced set of practices of Scrum and even beyond Core Agile Practices. In fact, a process is rather based on parts of Scrum/Core Agile Practices in order to optimize the work. Using practices from Agile methods (Scrum, XP) is always the subject of some amendments:
  • Different teams working on different products and in different contexts are facing different challenges and their process needs to be adapted
  • Core Agile Practices and agile practices, in general, does not cover all the process aspects
  • Some context scaling factors can make practices outside the Core Agile Practices the most useful in context. Or we will need to complement agile practices with others
  • Existent team skills do not include needed Core Agile Practices (as TDD)
Scaling factors
  • mentioned by XP: Number of people, Investment, Size of the entire organization, Time, Problem complexity, Solution complexity, Consequence of failure. [ See…]
  • mentioned by DA: Team Size, Geographic Distribution, Organizational distribution, Compliance, Domain complexity, Technical complexity.
  • In the case of Geographic Distribution, Organizational Distribution the highly desirable face-to-face conversation cannot be used on a large scale and should be replaced

Expectation support from a method

  • Support for Core Agile Practices, in order to directly address Manifesto values and principles and optimize the work. Core Agile Practices context is the software development domain in general, but any real case will have also a specific context.
  • Description of main Scaling/Tailoring Factors
  • Guidance for process tailoring in context:
    • how to select use life-cycles
    • context-agnostic process goals per life-cycle
    • selecting practices per process goals in the context
    • library of practices
© Copyright Valentin Tudor Mocanu 2018

Adapt to Context in Scrum

Support for Core Agile Practices

  • Reduced
  • See more on Process Alphabet: Core Agile Practices.
Support for Scaling Factors

  • Reduced
  • Some Scrum extensions try to manage (only) the size scale factor.
Guidance to adapt to the context

  • Reduced
  • Life-cycle selection: not available
  • Process goals coverage: only some Construction goals
  • Selecting practices in context – not available. Scrum it is prescriptive regarding its own practices. The only guidance in the basic Scrum is rather vague and it is based on the main principles: Transparency, Inspect and Adapt, where Inspect and adapt are related directly only to Scrum Meetings and Scrum iterations (Sprints)
  • Library of practices: not available
  • Beyond prescribed practices, Scrum allows to use any necessary other practice and let the team decide. Unfortunately, there is a very common misunderstanding (caused by bad coaching or missing knowledge) that Scrum by itself is the whole process. That is clearly specified as being false by Scrum authors. Their intention was to create a lightweight framework that is generic because does not have to cover the whole process and could be adapted

Adapt to Context in XP

Support for Core Agile Practices

Support for Scaling Factors

  • Partial: good, but very short about how to react to the scaling factors
  • XP acknowledge more scaling factors beyond the team size: Number of people, Investment, Size of the entire organization, Time, Problem complexity, Solution complexity, Consequence of failure. [ See…]

Guidance to adapt to context

  • Reduced.  XP is based on guidance for Core Agile Practices and some “corollary practices”, but with very few guidance to adapt to context

  • Life-cycles options 
    • Only one explicit option- Agile Basic Life-cycle - but with some guidance to achieve Continuous Delivery. 
    • There are release and iterations and the recommendation to take care also about weeks.
    • Continuous Delivery is rather poorly described as Daily Deployment corollary practices (while they specify that “has so many prerequisites “)
    • Excellent guidance about small releases

  • Process goals coverage
    • Some explicit guidance about Inception (planning game) goals.
    • Construction and Transitions are shortly addressed in these sections of the first Kent Beck XP book “Iterations to First Release”, “Productionizing”, where some goals are explained but are not “named”, for a better communication.
    • (in the same book) “Iterations to First Release”, “Productionizing”, “Maintenance” discuss mainly about the cycle of the first release and the readers can be confused about how to manage the next releases

  • Selecting practices in context

    • XP has a pragmatic approach. They have “core practices”,corollary practices” and strong recommendation for teams to discover what works for them. What is confusing is that the authors present two somehow different sets of core practices in the two main XP books.
    • XP problems in using goal driven approach
      • There are explicit process goals only for Inception
      • There is a rather small library of practices & too few guidance about options & trade-offs

  •  Library of practices – not available: only XP core and corollary practices

What is missing

  • No explicit process goals beyond inception (goals ~ basic support for tailoring)
  • No real tailoring support, too few references about other options and practices beyond XP
  • No explicit options for more Agile/Lean life-cycles (there is some implicit support and some useful references)  

Adapt to Context in DA

Support for Core Agile Practices

Support for Scaling Factors

  • Excellent: DA explicitly describe Scaling Factors and offers guidance about how the process is affected by them

Guidance to adapt to the context

  • Excellent. This is DA core: support for making process decisions in context.
  • Life-cycles options: more Agile/Lean agile life-cycle options are available. See more on Process Alphabet: Life-cycles
  • Process goals coverage: excellent. Process goals are explicit, cover whole life-cycle, have guidance and could be used to tailor any kind of Agile/Lean Process
  • Selecting practices along the life-cycles and roadmaps: This is the DA core: guidance to select practices in the life-cycle & context and the tradeoffs for different options. There is also Enterprise related guidance linking solution delivery with DevOps and Agile Enterprise. For development, Enterprise aspects are always part of the context and need to be addressed.      
  • Library of practices – Agile Basic life-cycle it is used as a model for distributing process goals and options as a library of practices. There is some great guidance about the tradeoffs of using different options per decision point and goal

How to … my custom process

Support for Core Agile Practices

Support for Scaling Factors

Adapt to context - Life-cycles selection

Adapt to context - Process Goals

  • Use explicit DA guidance about process goals distribution in Agile Basic life-cycle that also directly fit with Scrum and XP
  • XP practitioners could also use this method guidance for Inception goals (Release Planning Game)

Adapt to context - Selecting practices along the life-cycles

  • Use DA guidance to select practices in the life-cycle & context tradeoffs for different options
  • Use XP and DA guidance for Core Agile Practices and their principles-driven guidance
  • For Scrum and XP, using DA guidance, you can check if in current context you can preserve or replace the prescribed practices

Adapt to context – Library of practice  

  • Use DA library of practices (most XP and Scrum practices are already included) 

References (draft) 

[XPE1] – Extreme Programming Explained First Edition, By Kent Beck, Addison-Wesley, 1999
[XPE2] – Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change, Second Edition, By Kent Beck, Cynthia Andres, Addison-Wesley,  2004

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