Research update for late September

Currently in the editing and production queue, for publication in the next couple of weeks, are the following documents by Yours Truly:

  • The role of product management in Agile development.
  • The role of product management in software as a service (SaaS).
  • NEW! The questions people have been asking us about Agile, and what they reveal about the state of Agile development practices.

Also in the works is a piece that I'm co-authoring with Thomas Keitt about serious gaming as a tool for requirements collection. Updates on the exact publication date of these documents are coming soon.

Unfortunately, the document about the future of CRM is coming next month. I'll give you a more exact ETA, Dear Reader, as soon as I can.

Open is bad?

Once in a while, I enjoy columns about technology from people outside the technology industry. James Fallows, for example, doesn't suffer from all the unstated assumptions and personal agendas that many inside the industry have, so he regularly makes very useful observations from the "civilian" perspective.

On the other hand, Farhad Manjoo's column in Slate today really misses the mark. Here's his argument in a nutshell:

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Working on deadline

We're racing to the end of the quarter, when deadlines for research loom. That's why I haven't been blogging much for the last week or two. I'm currently working on multiple documents:

  • Product management's role in Agile development
  • Product management's role in SaaS
  • What our clients are asking about Agile development, and what these questions mean
  • Using "serious gaming" to elicit product requirements (co-authoring with TJ Keitt)

As soon as this workload subsides, I'll be posting on a normal schedule again.

Info about Forrester's Business and Technology Leadership Forum 2008

[NOTE: From time to time, you may see announcements like this one across the Forrester blogs about conferences, acquisitions, and other momentous events. You may be momentarily surprised by content that neither Scott nor I wrote, but I'm sure you'll make the distinction. We'll return to our regularly scheduled programming after this message.]

Forrester's Business & Technology Leadership Forum 2008 is coming up soon — September 23-24 in Orlando, Fla. This event is designed to arm technology and business leaders with emerging organizational, process, and technology practices that balance chaos and control to drive new business value. We have a great speaker lineup this year, with keynotes from:

Guest Speakers

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Many reasons to be Agile

I'll confess, one of the more surprising results of my recent research into Agile development in practice is the large number of motives to go Agile. From eliminating useless documentation to shortening development cycles to making the schedule more predictable, there were as many different reasons for Agile as people I interviewed.

Perhaps that's part of the success story of Agile: partly by design, partly by historical accident, the Agile movement addressed many different needs. In this way, Agile is a lot like the Protestant Reformation. Remember junior high school history class, when we heard that Luther's protest conveniently occurred just when secular princes were looking for ways to gain independence from Rome? The Agile movement arrived when more was happening in the technology industry than just the disgust of developers with schedules in which no one believed, or projects that didn't deliver what the customer wanted.

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Just choose something

Sometimes, personal or organizational change depends less on what new techniques you choose, and more on the fact that you're making any choice at all. For example, to some degree, losing weight is about making a commitment to some dieting technique, to be named later. Which diet you choose matters, of course, but it's not the sole determinant of weight loss.

In doing research here at Forrester, I keep having that thought as I skip merrily from topic to topic. Thinking about adopting some requirements tools? Good for you! The acknowledgement that you need better ways to track and analyze what customers want you to build, rather than what you prefer to build, is the first step towards greater product success. Before you choose the right tool, congratulate yourself on making that commitment.

Feel like the development team is going to lose its collective mind trying to apply some waterfall methodology? Congratulations! You're ready to look at the product development process in a whole new way. Soon, you'll be ready to pick the Agile methodology that works for you.

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