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Top Agile stories of 2011

As we end 2011, we at SSQ are taking a look at our most popular stories of the year. Melanie Webb reported on our top ALM stories  and today I’m going to fill you in on our top six Agile tips and stories.

You’ll see that four out of the six deal with questioning the popular methodology, specifically comparing it to the traditional Waterfall approach of developing software.  Some people love Agile; others hate it. Though recent surveys show Scrum as the most popular Agile framework, more and more organizations are pulling together a number of Agile techniques, creating a customized methodology that works best for their organization. Wherever you fall on the Waterfall vs. Agile debate, it would be worth your while to check out these top articles and read about the varied opinions and perspectives.

Coming in at number six in our lineup is: Waterfall vs. Agile development: A case study. Though many people claim that Agile development provides better results than using the Waterfall methodology, it’s hard to prove. In this case study, one development team worked on two similar projects, but with one project using Waterfall, and with the second project using Agile. Though the development team was new to Agile development and had a shaky start, in the end, they were convinced of the benefits.

Though Agile development worked best in that instance, Consultant Nari Kannan makes a case for a hybrid approach in our number five story: Why hybrid Waterfall/Agile process lessens distributed software development problems. In this tip, Kannan describes mixing Waterfall and Agile techniques, claiming that the hybrid approach benefits distributed teams, by combining some of the discipline found in Waterfall with the flexibility found in Agile.

Kannan is also the author of our fourth most popular Agile story, Scaling Agile software development: Challenges and solutions. In this tip, Kannan addresses some of the difficulties with executing Agile development on large projects, and again, addresses the issue of distributed teams and offshore development. He talks about ways to organize projects and improve communication when working on large-scale projects.

SSQ contributor David W. Johnson takes a very logical look at the differences between Waterfall and Agile in his tip: Waterfall or Agile? – Differences between predictive and adaptive software methodologies. Johnson describes relative strengths and weaknesses to both approaches and discusses how and when to leverage each, depending on the needs o f your business. Johnson recognizes the heated debates over the merits of predictive vs. adaptive methodologies and recommends using the best aspects of both when deciding upon a methodology.

We certainly hear a lot from those singing the praises of Agile development, but is it really all it claims to be? The Web is full of blog posts from people who hate Agile. In Agile development: What’s behind the backlash against Agile?, SSQ’s Jan Stafford takes a hard look at the dark side of Agile. What are the nay-sayers reasons for speaking out against the methodology?

Finally, our number one Agile story for 2011 is Agile requirements: A conversation with author Dean Leffingwell. In this interview, I talk to Leffingwell about his book, Agile Software Requirements – Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise and about some of the challenges with the requirements management process in Agile development. Leffingwell describes the differences between requirements processes in traditional and Agile environments and gives some advice on what teams should be looking for in Agile requirements tools.

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