The Role of Social Software and Outside-in Agile Development

Reposted from my Lotus Greenhouse 26 Sep 2008 Blog (create a free account)

Background
So if you’ve been following some of the folks mentioned in my post About Me – Not, perhaps read Outside-in Software Development: A Practical Approach to Building Successful Stakeholder-Based Products by John Sweitzer and Carl Kessler
of IBM’s Software Group, or are simply into social software and finding its business value in the enterprise, then you’ve probably already thought of this post. But in case you haven’t here’s the main point:

Executive summary

The further software development moves away from the waterfall process, the more we need to embrace customer/stakeholder interactions. Not only on a more frequent basis, but also on a more informal basis. (Think of Twitter’s 140 character limit.)

Like an onion

Armed with Dan Roam’s The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, I’ve been playing around with this image in my mind’s eye and in the event my artistic skills are somewhat lacking, I’ll explain everything layer-by-layer.

This is my social software compass. To the north, I have customers and the marketplace outside the firewall. To the south, there’s folks like me in the software development labs. On the west side, I have the traditional Waterfall development approach. And on the east side, the Agile process.

Waterfall layer

Now let’s map a simplistic view of Waterfall tools used.
In the In-Waterfall quadrant, I have huge documents and testing procedures. In the Outside-Waterfall quadrant, I have a few phone conversations and face-to-face meetings.

Agile layer

I may have have gotten out of hand on the Agile side of the map so things got a bit messy.

All I’m trying to illustrate here is how all the social software tools have a role to play in our quest for outside-in Agile software development. We could be tapping into Facebook, Twitter, wikis, blogs, news feeds, instant messaging like Sametime and e-meetings like Sametime Unyte. We should be leveraging the social networks for helping us write smaller, more practical User Stories and getting more frequent feedback by getting betas outside earlier & more often.

Mapping the tools and the process

So here’s the suggestion.

Let’s use Rational Team Concert, the Agile/Scrum Process and Lotus Connections for outside-in software development.

Do you have any thoughts, or, experiences you’d like to share? Is this doable,or, suicidal? Can you understand my drawings?

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