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What It's Like Being a Client for Agile Custom Software Development Projects: Tech Club Podcast

Mar 28, 2016 custom software Dennis Junk


For this week’s episode of Tech Club, James and I interviewed Software Architect Jon Fazzaro about agile processes for custom software development. It turns out James Swihart himself is a certified Scrum Master, so it was up to me to ask the questions someone on the customer side would have.

We let the interview go a bit longer this week because our goal was to walk through the process from start to finish. That way, we hope you’ll come away with a solid grasp on what would be expected of you as a Product Owner, a representative on the user side, at each stage. You’ll also have a rough idea of what the development team is up to during each of the sprints.

Here’s a list of the main questions we answer:

  • What is Scrum and how does it relate to agile?
  • What is the main difference between agile and traditional approaches to custom software development?
  • Why is it never a good idea to try and imagine every detail of a project upfront?
  • What is the primary value of software? And why is agility important?
  • Why are the three main points of agile—value, change, and trust—so important to the process?
  • What is a Product Backlog and how do sprints work to take it on?
  • How does the team respond to changes in the assumptions that were built into plan at the stupidest stage?
  • How do you keep a process that’s somewhat open-ended from growing out of control, keeping the timeline and the budget fixed?
  • How do people in various roles—Scrum Master, Product Owner, Developers—communicate and coordinate their efforts?
  • What does velocity mean in the context of Scrum, and how does it help you plan sprints?
  • Why is keeping Scrum teams together so important? (Or what Jon learned about Master Minds from The Art of Manliness)
  • What does the Mythical Man Month say about Scrum teams?
  • What is Technical Debt and how do you avoid dragging along unnecessary or Rube Goldberg code to later sprints?
  • Why is clean code the key to optimal functionality over the many iterations?
  • What is Planning Poker and how does the Fibonacci sequence help with sprint planning?
  • What happens during product demos and sprint reviews?
  • Why is one of the basic principles of agile that working software trumps comprehensive documentation?
  • Why is the sprint retrospective the most important part of the process?

Of course, custom software development is a serious topic, but this being Tech Club, James and I couldn't help having a little fun along the way. Anyway, we'd love to hear what you think. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, send them along to techclub@apterainc.com

Here’s a good list of posts if you want to learn more about Scrum and the agile process:

5 “Surprises” That Come Up in Every Custom Software Project

How to Choose a Custom Software Development Firm in the Age of Scrum 

Does Scrum Really Help Control Cost?

Does Scrum Really Work?

Switching from Waterfall to Scrum Midstream

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Posted in: custom software

Topics: custom software Scrum Agile Tech Club Podcast