Sunday, May 15, 2005

Agile Development - Management

Back to bloging about my experiences as an agile coach. In my last entry I mentioned that we were weeks away from our first release, but that we were also burdened with technical debt.

Well, we have delivered our first release (sort of), but it has been painful. The more experienced developers in the team, are now quite aware of the impact of technical debt, mainly as a consequence of having to refactor large swath's of the system inorder to implement the final few stories.

The technical team lead approached me and asked what to do? Quite frankly I was stumped for an answer. The problem was that some team members were quite convinced that their "up front designs" were playing a vital role. And in their opinion their views where just a valid as mine. After all, common sense dictates that unit testing is about testing, not design right?

By this stage my attempts to persuade them otherwise had failed abysmally. Our team leaders' attempts to assert some influence had failed too. People are complex. The reasons for resisting TDD by some team members are still unclear to me. What was clear though, is that their stance was putting the project at risk, and that management should be informed.

So I penned an e-mail to our manager. It had to be an e-mail, since the only person I could clearly identify as taking direct management responsibility was based in the States (all the team members including myself and the customer assigned team lead are contractors). As a consequence a tele-conference between myself, the technical team lead, the onsite customer assigned team lead, and the offsite manager ensued (if this structure sounds complex, that is because it is!).

Nothing much came of this meeting other than me being told: "Call me back when there is a crisis" by our Manager. So what is the moral of the story? The pointy haired boss is alive and well, even on agile projects.

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