Agile is gaining more and more momentum.

Jutta Eckstein

Later this month, the first ever JAX London conference will be held at Novotel London West. JAX London provides a platform for project managers, software developers and architects to learn about the latest Technology, Architecture and Agile Methodologies through technical presentations, tutorials and keynotes sessions presented by industry luminaries.

With this in mind, JAXenter caught up with some of the speakers
at JAX
, to give you a sneak-preview of what to expect from the
three-day conference……

JAXenter: You are track host of the Agile Day
at JAX London, and were therefore responsible for defining all of
the sessions. What overall experience did you try to provide for
Agile Day attendees?

Jutta Eckstein: The Agile Day covers as many
topics as it provides details on specific subjects! Rachel Davies
will shed light on the secrets of coaching agile teams to
self-organise. Roman Pichler will explain how to prevent the
product backlog from turning into chaos, and how to steer
iterations over the long run. Jamie Allsop and myself will share
our experiences of applying agility to distributed projects. Kevlin
Henney will talk about finding the ideal processes and tools to
support an agile team. Keith Braithwaite and Allan Kelly will look
into state-of-the-art agile development; what we have learned along
the way; and how the future might look. As you can see, the
diversity of topics allows us to explore agile development from
different perspectives, and the participants will benefit from the
various experiences of the speakers.

JAXenter: At JAX London you’re holding a
session about the importance of trust in agile development, and
ways to build, maintain and avoid damaging trust. Trust is
obviously an important factor in all business relationships – but
why do you consider it to be particularly crucial in agile

Jutta Eckstein: My talk focuses on
communication, trust and collaboration in distributed development.
These factors are important in all business relationships, but are
frequently overlooked. To my knowledge, agile is the only software
development approach that accepts that communication and trust are
essential for success. And as many studies have discovered; trust,
communication and collaboration are essential for successful
distributed development. Global development and agility complement
one another.

JAXenter: The Agile Manifesto was written back
in 2001 – do you consider this document to be widely adopted in

Jutta Eckstein: The Agile Manifesto is widely
accepted as the guideline for agile development. It is a set of
values and guiding principles that help teams design an individual
process to support their specific needs. The Agile Manifesto was
never intended to be adopted, but to be adapted to the needs of the
individual team, project, organisation and setting. And it still
serves that purpose well. It actually serves that purpose so well
that other communities have copied it: there is now a manifesto for
software engineering, cloud computing and SOA.

JAXenter: Agile methods can be hugely
beneficial to a project, but not all agile projects are successful.
In your opinion, what are the three key factors that can make or
break an agile project?

Jutta Eckstein: One of the most important
factors for success, is also the biggest trap: frequent feedback
from different levels. For example, feedback about developed
functionality, customer acceptance, quality, estimates, etc….
This feedback makes it possible to identify problems quickly. Dierk
Koenig (who is also a speaker at JAX London) once defined agile
development as a ‘problem detector.’ In my opinion, this is a
positive thing. I can only address problems if I’m aware of them.
Yet, often this isn’t properly leveraged. Sometimes people don’t
even want to acknowledge the problems.

For example – an agile team measures its development velocity.
Thus, it’s absolutely transparent how much a team can deliver per
iteration. This velocity is used to forecast (and verify) the
remainder of the project. It might reveal that the team cannot
deliver everything that’s requested, by the given deadline. If this
is the case, management should clarify with the customer which
features will be delivered by the deadline, and which features will
have to be postponed until a later date. Yet, very often management
ignores the predictions of development velocity; doesn’t pre-warn
their customers; and continues to promise that the impossible is

Agile development requests transparency and honesty – especially
towards the customers.

JAXenter: To many, 2001 was the year of the
‘agile movement.’ That was almost a decade ago: is agile still
relevant in 2010?

Jutta Eckstein: In 2001 the term agile was
“created” – for software development. Although XP and Scrum had
been around for a while, in 2001 agile was still mainly restricted
to early adopters. Nowadays, agile is gaining more and more
momentum and entering a broader market. This is due to changes in
the market – at least in many domains. For a lot of companies it is
no longer possible to clarify the requirements one year or more
before the actual delivery. The reason is that during that year,
their competitor may have swamped the market with features that’ll
put their company out of business. Thus, companies have to react
quickly to market demands, customer feedback and their competitors.
Agile development enables you to do exactly that.

Jutta Eckstein will give two talks on 22nd February 2010 at JAX
London. Full details of all the talks at JAX London are available
at the conference website.

Jutta Eckstein
Jutta Eckstein, a partner of IT communication, is an independent coach, consultant and trainer from Braunschweig, Germany. She has a unique experience in applying agile processes within medium-sized to large distributed mission-critical projects. This is also the topic of her books
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