From Concept to Product Backlog: What Happens Before Iteration Zero
Many agile methodologies start with a product owner walking into a room with a pile of money and a stack of prioritized story cards and then telling the development team to start building a system. These same methodologies often eschew any form of "big upfront" activities and leave us in such a rush to deliver business value that we don't have time to do architecture, user/task research, etc. While a pile of story cards may be the first thing the development team sees, this is rarely the first set of activities in a project. In reality, the customer usually comes with a problem and some vague idea of how to solve it with technology. Someone must help the customer crystallize his vision, design the product, get the necessary funding, and populate the initial product backlog. Gerard Meszaros provides an overview of what needs to go on "behind the scenes" from project conception to the start of development in earnest.
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