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Jul 2008 13

IBM and Agile Programming

Software development

So I have been pretty busy of late. Work has been on endless "crunch" period which promises to continue in this vein for the time being. It's not fun. In fact, I'm a little burned out -- No big deal though.. these things tend to cure themselves after a time..

It's just that some of the stuff I'm working on has the "too little, too late" feel to it that I can't really explain. Plus I'm worried that it's something that doesn't bring value to the customer -- which believe it or not, and despite what my manager thinks.. I actually care about.

The part of the product I'm currently work in is "reporting" and its a HUGE job. Bigger than most realize -- though I was told yesterday by one of the technical writers than she had no clue how big it was.. haha

I have basically been tasked with completely rewriting the user interface for the reporting side of the product in a very short period of time. It took 2 years to get into the state its in today (A buggy and often incomplete state) and they gave me 90 days to fix it. I failed.

It just wasn't enough time. I'm still working on it and everyone has been understanding about it, but I still hate that I wasn't able to get it on time.

I often blame IBM for the endless meetings and other time wasters for this failure, but in all truth it was just too much work.. I bit off more than I could chew.. Though the time wasters might have been a factor;

Our last couple of work days involved a two day class on "agile programming". And while I agree with the message of the class, the class itself wasn't very good. Primarily because you had a bunch of non-programmer bureaucrats telling us how we should do our job. More over, I kind of got that one of the leading messages they were shilling was that metrics driven product development was a mistake.. all the while giving us a brand new set of metrics to use.. And doing so in a "touchy feely, every one get up and do this goofy activity" sort of way.

More over, I feel that most of their message would have been better delivered to the upper management instead of us. As programmers, we just need to know when, where and how.. The why of it can be kept to a 30 minute meeting.. 2 whole days seemed wasteful.. Just my opinion of course, so it's worth pretty much nothing.

The whole class was full of trendy keywords like scrum, stand-ups, sprint backlog, stakeholders, and burn down.. when I thought they could have just used plain words to get basic concepts across.. It really smacked of red tape to be honest..

What amuses me the most is the fact that the agile programming method isn't vastly different from what we were doing at BuildForge prior to IBM buying the company -- we just didn't have a trendy name for it.

All and all though I think agile is a good idea, and it certainly will help in the future but does nothing for us in the here and now.

Certainly doesn't help me make up for the missed deadline..

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