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Archive for August, 2010

It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Posted by kostub on August 31, 2010

There is no single development, in either technology or management technique,
which by itself promises even one order-of-magnitude improvement within a decade
in productivity, in reliability, in simplicity.
– Fred Brooks, Jr

In the past few years, I’ve worked at various companies which used Sprints to plan their work. Agile methodologies, such as Scrum, have become the latest fads in software development. Every company I’ve interacted with touts how they switched to the Agile software development processes and it is the most frequently cited silver bullet for many establishments. There are many processes that the agile methodology advocates, but the one that is being adopted most rapidly is Scrum. You can find innumerable books, websites and blogs that will extol the benefits of Scrum, but any criticism of the process is really hard to find.

Scrum has many advantages similar to those of other iterative or rapid development processes. But due to the high popularity and the heavy marketing of Scrum as a panacea, very few people realize the potential drawbacks they could encounter. This post describes the various issues that I have observed in the companies that I worked at. I will not go into the details of how Scrum works, you can find many great resources on scrum websites. However, my favorite of post on agile is Steve Yegge’s sarcastic post on Good Agile, Bad Agile.

So what are the drawbacks of Scrum? The two symptoms I’ve seen commonly are:

  1. Sub-optimal execution
  2. Lack of solid software

Sub-optimal execution is any activity that results in rework or unnecessary wasted effort.  In this post I’ll concentrate on the this issue.  A follow-up blog post will delve into details of why Sprints may lead to poorer quality software. Let us look into some of the aspects of Scrum that could lead to sub-optimal execution: Read the rest of this entry »


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Health-care Reform

Posted by kostub on August 23, 2010

It has been a few months since the health-care reform bill has passed. Some people have labeled it as a great success while others an abject failure. One thing is for certain though – the overall popularity of this reform is still quite  low. So would this law make things better or worse?

While the exact nature in which the provisions of the law will affect the health-care market is something that remains to be seen – people have made strong predictions of the outcomes – the liberals have the rosy ones and the conservatives the scary ones, and some people have even thought of ways to game the system. My guess is that the real outcome will probably be somewhere in the middle, largely leaving the current macro trends such as rising insurance premiums and health-care costs unchanged and that health-care would again be a significant issue in the 2020 presidential elections. Read the rest of this entry »

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