At the risk of being lambasted by the agile community I will use the words enterprise and agile in the same sentence 😉
This article largely follows on from some previous entries and in particular my entry on user centred test driven development.
It is often a complaint that large organisations trundle along painfully and slowly. Work can’t start without following some process or other until you have sign-off. Part of this sign-off will probably involve agreement to follow certain standards and guidelines, but if these standards don’t yet exist how can we start???
To challenge this and present an alternative approach, why not make the “standards” part of the delivery itself. Make it clear up front that rather than wait for the standards to be released (which would be the normal mode of attack in large organisations) you will actively work with whichever standard’s body exists in the organisation to evolve just enough standards to support the actual work you are doing as you work through the backlog.
To make this work, COURAGE is imperative… Someone has to have the courage to put a stake in the ground early, recognising there is a small risk this may change. Developers should embed the standards into their automated testing as early as possible, this means that when and if a standard does change, there are tests in place which will assist developers in ensuring that all work to date is easily brought up to date…
The results of this is a design language that everyone can understand, when someone says they are writing a test which is looking for the jobs tag in the currently featured news article, everyone should know what that refers to in the wireframes, and also know how this will be identified and marked up in the implementation. This allows tests to be written before any code and even for the final “Look And Feel” to progress alongside development.
Of course, you’re always free to continue in the traditional model and wait for three months until the standards body within the organisation produces a 300 page guidelines document before even starting that killer new feature that will storm the market… Or make totally random guesses, which are much more likely to be wrong, and be safe in the knowledge you have the traditional saviour of projects – Hope and Prayer!!!