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Dave Thomas made this point repeatedly: If you don’t have an infrastructure for doing continuous integration and automated tests then you can forget about transitioning to agile methods.
This is good news for us, since we’re there and have been for some time. I personally think it has been the right way to go, introducing the foundation and gradually maturing towards a better understanding. I think understanding must be there internally before we can bring in someone from the outside to show us the way. I feel that we are ready now to move further with agile methods and start to challenge our document driven ways.
So, what am I advocating here? The death of PROMIT, certainly not, but it needs to be reworked seriously. PROMIT is derived from PROMIS. Why do we have PROMIS? To manage huge, costly oil field development projects with huge amount of infrastrucure costs. The cost distribution of these projects are low in the specification phase and extremely high once the infratructure starts to be implemented. On these projects it makes sense to have the decision gates to control the costs before implementation, but this doesn’t translate into software development.
Software development cost distribution is no different in the implementation phase than in any other time of the project. The cost depends on how many people and how long it runs. The best way to control this cost is to set a date (fix the time), set the teams (fix the people) and let the scope vary within reason.