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Feb 20

Agile versus Offshore at the NYC SPIN Meeting

by QSMA, Agile, Comments Off on Agile versus Offshore at the NYC SPIN Meeting

Feb 20

February 20, 2007

Finally getting a chance to collect my thoughts after last week’s presentation at the New York City SPIN meeting. My presentation originally began as a discussion of two case studies. In both cases the companies that I had the privilege of working decided to ask me to help them collect and analyze productivity and defect metrics on their Agile/XP environment.

For kicks, I added about 8 slides on patterns that my company has been seeing on offshore/outsourced projects. Why? Because in both cases, the client companies implementing agile were having to answer challenges about why they were not simply doing more software in places like India. In short, they were having to defend their turf, and explain why they were doing projects in the U.S.! How strange is that?

I didn’t expect how the juxtaposing this data would spark such lively interest and debate. Talk about lighting a fire! Ed Yourdon’s comments about the speech also captured a lot of the feel in the audience. I imagine that this is the start of a healthy and productive dialog about these topics that should make its way through the executive ranks at various places.

It sure did at one company that invited me to present these industry patterns to their Executive Committee. In a nutshell, this meeting was what sparked me to re-work my SPIN presentation. The attendees were made up of the CEO, CFO, CIO and the presidents of each division. Another interesting aspect was that I addressed the subject not from a theoretical perspective, but from a view derived from actual data, collected from their own development center and benchmarked against industry statistics. These execs wanted to know how their time-to-market, cost, productivity, and quality metrics compared against industry trends. They also wanted to know what the research showed on outsourced projects for the same metrics. Should this company do more agile development (in this case using Extreme Programming) or should they go offshore, like so many companies were doing these days?

I’m glad I decided to cover both topics for the SPIN meeting, because it appears as though the discussion of these topics side-by-side has sparked a lot of buzz among several circles that I enjoy being a part of, outside of the SPIN. Even if driving back home from New York City through the Valentine’s Day Blizzard was an adventure in and of itself! (I found a video of what it was like on YouTube. Sure hope the person driving wasn’t filming at the same time 🙂

Footnote on driving Interstate 87 in the snow: If you have 4 wheel drive and snow tires, you can do it even in a storm like this. However, if I were to do it again, I wouldn’t. Not because of the snow or my vehicle, but to avoid the psychotic 18-wheeler truck drivers. I nearly was run off the road by two of them. I came across each of them a few miles ahead, after they screamed pass me, having run into a snowbank off the shoulder. The first had run a minivan off the road after clipping it while trying to pass. The second did the same thing – except the vehicle that he clipped as he was passing it – and running it off the road – was one of the NY State snowplows!

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