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Book Excerpt: Scaling Software Agility

A question frequently heard in courses and conferences on Agile software development is: "But does it scale?" Emerging stories and case studies indicate that, given a sound approach and in the right context, it certainly does. A recent book collects some of the wisdom around practices for scaling Agility: "Scaling Software Agility: Best Practices for Large Enterprises", authored by Dean Leffingwell, a methodologist notable for his work on both IBM Rational and Rally software methodologies. For those still uncertain of the benefits offered by this approach, Leffingwell begins his book by examining "What is Agility, and why are large enterprises even considering it?"  InfoQ brings you these first two chapters in pdf form: Introduction to Agile Methods, and Why the Waterfall Model Doesn’t Work.

In Chapter 1, Leffingwell looks at the driver behind the growing adoption of Agile: the need for competitive advantage in a fast-moving software marketplace. He outlines how Agile addresses this "need for speed", and provides a quick overview of several well-known methods: XP, Scrum, and RUP.

In Chapter 2, he takes a step back and looks at how we got here: "Why the Waterfall Model Doesn’t Work", the assumptions underlying that model, and how Agile methods address them.

In subsequent chapters, Leffingwell presents seven basic practices for enterprise-scale Agile and says:
The fact that these seven practices work efficiently in the enterprise, large or small, should provide some comfort to those CIOs, vice presidents of development, and other agents of organizational change who look to adopt these methods to improve the software productivity of their larger enterprise.
Jim Highsmith, series editor and director of Agile Practice for the Cutter Consortium, says of this book:
Companies have been implementing large agile projects for a number of years, but the ‘stigma’ of ‘agile only works for small projects’ continues to be a frequent barrier for newcomers and a rallying cry for agile critics. What has been missing from the agile literature is a solid, practical book on the specifics of developing large projects in an agile way. Dean Leffingwell’s book Scaling Software Agility fills this gap admirably. It offers a practical guide to large project issues such as architecture, requirements development, multi-level release planning, and team organization. Leffingwell’s book is a necessary guide for large projects and large organizations making the transition to agile development.
Here's the entire table of contents. For those who like to do their own research, each chapter ends with a reading list:
  • Part I: Overview of Software Agility - a look at the most common and effective agile methods
  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Agile Methods
  • Chapter 2: Why the Waterfall Model Doesn’t Work
  • Chapter 3: The Essence of XP
  • Chapter 4: The Essence of Scrum
  • Chapter 5: The Essence of RUP
  • Chapter 6: Lean Software, DSDM, and FDD
  • Chapter 7: The Essence of Agile
  • Chapter 8: The Challenge of Scaling Agile
  • Part II: Seven Agile Team Practices That Scale - practices that natively scale to the enterprise level
  • Chapter 9: The Define/Build/Test Component Team
  • Chapter 10: Two Levels of Planning and Tracking
  • Chapter 11: Mastering the Iteration
  • Chapter 12: Smaller, More Frequent Releases
  • Chapter 13: Concurrent Testing
  • Chapter 14: Continuous Integration
  • Chapter 15: Regular Reflection and Adaptation
  • Part III: Creating the Agile Enterprise - an additional set of seven organizational capabilities that companies can master to achieve the full benefits of software agility on an enterprise scale.
  • Chapter 16: Intentional Architecture
  • Chapter 17: Lean Requirements at Scale: Vision, Roadmap, and Just-in-Time Elaboration
  • Chapter 18: Systems of Systems and the Agile Release Train
  • Chapter 19: Managing Highly Distributed Development
  • Chapter 20: Impact on Customers and Operation
  • Chapter 21: Changing the Organization
  • Chapter 22: Measuring Business Performance
  • Conclusion: Agility Works at Scale

These chapters are excerpted from the new book, "Scaling Software Agility: Best Practices for Large Enterprises", authored by Dean Leffingwell, published as part of the Addison-Wesley Professional Agile Software Development Series, Copyright 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0321458192 For more information, please visit:

About the Author:

Dean Leffingwell is a reknowned software development methodologist, author, and software team coach who has spent his career helping software teams meet their goals. He is the former founder and CEO of Requisite, Inc., makers of RequisitePro, and a former vice president at Rational Software, where he was responsible for the commercialization of RUP. During the last five years, in his role as both an independent consultant and as advisor/methodologist to Rally Software, Mr. Leffingwell has applied his experience to the organizational challenge of implementing agile methods at scale with entrepreneurial teams as well as distributed, multinational corporations. These experiences form much of the basis for this book. 

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