Agile Efforts Involve Training the Trainers
Shortage of leaders seen as holding back adoption of methodologies
August 23, 2007 —
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WASHINGTON, D.C. The need to train mentors and team leaders came to the fore at the recent Agile 2007 Conference, held last week in the U.S. capital.
As agile adoption continues to rise, organizations are finding difficulty when trying to move agile out from a pilot project or a single team to the rest of the organization, according to comments made by attendees to the event. Leadership at the team and executive levels is imperative if an organization is to reap the benefits of agile software development.
"Training is essential, and having a good mentor on every project is crucial," Peter Harrison, CEO of global product development company GlobalLogic, said in an interview with SD Times. Leadership at the team and executive levels is imperative to make agile work within an organization.
One place where agile training is occurring is at a small but growing number of colleges and universities in North America and Europe. At one session, Kelvin Boechler of the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology in Saskatoon, Canada, said he began teaching agile methodologies because the waterfall methods "required so much documentation that [students] never got to the point of writing software" to complete their projects.
Brian Hanks of Fort Lewis (Colo.) College said instructors need to be more agile too. "They can't just say a project's due on X date and I'm going to use this rubric to grade it," he said. Agile methods have allowed him to find community partners in something he called "service learning," where the partner as well as the student benefit from the software project. "These are real projects with real clients, not some throwaway projects the professor made up." This, he said, also provides students with a taste of all the issues that come up when working with a client, such as the client having no technical knowledge, and changing his mind about requirements.
Among the efforts to bring developers and trainers up to speed are Agile University and Agile Commons, created by Rally Software to facilitate learning and collaboration. Rally founder and CTO Ryan Martens said, "We want to raise the water in the whole agile space."