A word on AGILE

johnnycage

 

AGILE is a set of software development methods created a by a group of people tired of the lack of flexibility in their discipline. Depending how it’s done, AGILE can be very helpful, or it can be a pain in the neck.

For a more comprehensive definition of AGILE. The AGILE manifesto and Wikipedia.

But you should at least know that the AGILE methods touch on many aspects of software development : Coding, communication, team dynamics, tasks management… One of the main principles of AGILE is iterative development: instead of going through all the steps of the Software Development through one big Cycle, the work is broken into smaller pieces to be handled in smaller successive cycles. Another principle is that the client should be part of process and give feedback often (Of course a “client” cannot always be the final user. Sometimes it will be another department in the company).

Polemic around AGILE

There is a lot of debate around the real efficiency of AGILE. It can get very subjective. What is objectively noticeable though is that it has been getting more and more popular over the last decade, not without negative side effects. It’s often advertised as a silver bullet and the best thing since sliced bread although it’s just another approach to software development with its pros and cons

There’s a lot of confusion around the topic. It’s not 100% clear how it should be implemented and it seems that for each skeptical person speaking up to describe how it failed in her/his company, there is an AGILE enthusiast replying that it was not implemented correctly. A lot of consultants jumped on the bandwagon and offer to implement AGILE, posing as expert just because they got an expensive certification. Expertise comes with practice and experience

In some companies it’s just an excuse for the management to do whatever they want and if you protest they will answer that you’re not being very AGILE. It’s also very common to see job offers requiring that the candidate worked in an AGILE environment which is stupid because a competent person with good work ethics can adapt to any reasonable methodology.

But don’t be discouraged. AGILE can work and be pleasant. And anyways, we have to live with it.

Doing with AGILE

So what do you do if you’re applying to a job requiring AGILE experience? Get to know the beast by doing some research online or buying a good book on the topic (if you can identify one…). You don’t need to spend too much time on it, but you should at least have a clear idea of what it is, why was it invented and how it’s working. You definitely want to learn all the AGILE buzzwords: Scrum, product owner backlog, scrum master, etc

At the interview, I would recommend to just be honest about it. Tell them that you didn’t work in an AGILE environment but that you still educated yourself on the topic. It would be a very bad move from a recruiter to not hire you ONLY based on that.

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