August 4, 2009

Hot New Group… Michigan Agile Enthusiasts!

by Matt Wickey

I recently started attending monthly meetings of a group called Michigan Agile Enthusiasts. Because of this I’ve been reminded again about the benefit of spending time with like minded professionals to discuss methodology, useful practices, and cool agile stuff!

The current President of MAE is Chris Beale who is a Vice President for Pillar Technologies and is also a highly respected agile professional. Chris and the MAE team do a good job of providing quality speakers, great networking opportunities and tasty hors d'oeuvres.

At my first meeting the speaker was Elisabeth Hendrickson whose business card reads, and I quote,

“Founder, president and Test Obsessed Agile consultant and trainer.”

She is a founder of Quality Tree Software, Inc. in Pleasanton, CA. She was, apparently, passing through town and accepted our invitation to speak. She presented some interesting ideas on expanding Test Driven Development (TDD) beyond standard unit testing to include Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD) and exploratory testing. It was a great talk and really got me thinking about enhanced testing practices.

At the most recent MAE meeting some MAE members, Nayan Harjratwala and Aimee Keener, presented a comparison of agile methodologies Scrum and Kanban. As an agile software professional I am, of course, familiar with Scrum. And, as a former auto company employee, I had at least heard of Kanban. But I’d never seen Kanban applied to software development projects before. Kanban is one of the lean methodologies originating in the world of discrete manufacturing. It takes the agility of Scrum and refines the granularity to the point where each individual task/story/backlog item has it’s own development path and velocity. Very interesting!

What Nayan and Aimee demonstrated is that all methodologies have strengths and weaknesses. If your software development practice is very process oriented and more or less discrete, Kanban may be an excellent choice to enhance control and “lean out” your work.

What does all this mean? It means if you’ve got a free Monday evening and want to get in touch with your agile comrades, you should find out where the next Michigan Agile Enthusiast meeting is and head on down! The two meetings I’ve attended were held at Bastone Restaurant and Brewery in Royal Oak. However the meeting spots change so check the MAE site at agileenthusiasts.ning.com to be sure of the time and location before leaving home. Also be sure to follow our IT Event & User Group Calendar for other interesting meetings.

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