use it very often and could certainly drive to work perfectly safely without one. By focusing on the fundamentals - the engine, chassis, and seatbelts - you can often get rid of the optional extras. The beauty of agile is that these extra features can always be added on at a later date if budget allows.
One month later, the direction of the development had changed by 30 per cent from original requirements. It had transpired that the company was in the process of being acquired and the MD realised that if he could reduce the cost of the project, it would make the company all the more attractive to buyers.
The third group of people we generally see are those who like the sound of some of the aspects of agile but not others. Typically, developers like the emphasis on quick results, but fail to ensure true involvement from the business - the "customer" if you like. This half-hearted approach won't work when adopting agile methods - it needs to be either all or nothing and everyone in the business has to embrace the principles of agile, not just those working on the code. Breaking a project down into iterations will have little value or success without undertaking scrum meetings involving the users at the end of each stage, for example.
The importance of training ...
The main way to combat all of these challenges is through consistent training to ensure everyone is starting from a level playing field. This goes for all involved, from project managers to users through to the CEO. Our own training and certification program gives clients a thorough introduction to agile methodologies and seeks to consolidate the many different interpretations of agile methods across the industry, into the most pragmatic approach. Our consultants also undertake the same training and the emphasis is on sharing a common language to avoid antagonistic behaviour where each party believes his or her understanding of terminology and principles is the one that the whole team should abide by.
Depending upon requirements, training can be from one-hour to 12-week courses to introduce the philosophy behind agile methodologies and provide attendees with hands-on experience of iterative planning and daily scrum meetings.
... combined with motivation
In addition to ensuring consistency of understanding and processes, managing the stress associated with a new way of working and the continually changing aspects of agile development is equally important. Such were the conditions of a recent project that, once again, involved vielife.
For this project we employed the Scrum agile methodology where the customer became part of the development team and frequent, intermediate deliveries with working functionality were provided so that continual assessment could be carried out. This way of working was very demanding as each iteration and its evaluation came with a new set of pressures as the customer sought to achieve more during each phase.
However, at the end of each iteration of the project, the demos became a release valve. They were made into as much of an occasion as possible with treats such as cakes, beer and ice cream being brought in to celebrate successes. Psychologically, the demos became an arena in which the team could "score goals". Like taking a penalty, the level of adrenalin peaks in the time leading up to the demo and is then released as the client applauds the team's effort and the group feels that its energy and stress has been worthwhile. This worked as the biggest stress alleviator in the project.
We also introduced monthly team building events, such as go-karting as fun-filled stress-free breathers to revive the team. We found that treats like these events and