Is it worth it?

It’s rarely a good deal to invest much cash into technology when you can easily hire more actual people to do the job in a cost-effective way. Sometimes the low-tech solution is the easiest and best solution.

I got a kick out of today’s XKCD comic strip. (Chart: “How long can you work on making a routine task more efficient before you’re spending more time than you save?”) It reminds me a lot of a conversation I had last Friday with an entrepreneur who’s trying to automate some, but not all! of his information business.

See, “Allan” gets a lot of documents that are not so well standardized, puts their contents into a database, and essentially gets paid by his client companies to let them know when and where they–or their subsidiaries–are mentioned. (There’s more to it than that, but this is the relevant part right now.)

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Cost of convergence

You can’t afford to: create the installer, finish the release notes, and tie up all those little loose ends. Not for every increment. It takes a long time and the effort simply isn’t worth it.

I was recently developing a significant new feature on an ASP.NET application. The client’s regular dev team is located in India, but for this new feature they wanted somebody whom they could work with face-to-face, and having me dedicated to the project (for a short time) seemed like an advantage.

We started off really well. I was able to get into TFS for version control, connect to the development database, and add a few basic pages to get started.

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Testability, Simply

When they try to “do Agile,” many people work too hard at it. The right idea is to cut down on things that don’t get the project done and build up things that do get the project done.

Here’s another real-life example of applying Agile values and principles in weird or hostile environments. You can adapt well-known Agile practices or even make up your own. The values and principles are what matter.

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