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All Content

Remote versus Co-located Work

There isn't a simple dichotomy of remote versus co-located work, instead there are several patterns of distribution for teams each of which has different trade-offs and effective techniques suitable for them. While it's impossible to determine conclusive evidence, my sense is that most groups are more productive working in a co-located manner. But you can build a more productive team by using a distributed working model, because it gives you access to a wider talent pool.

19 October 2015



by Sriram Narayan

Alignment maps are organizational information radiators that help visualize the alignment of ongoing work with business outcomes. The work may be regular functionality addition or technical work such as re-architecting or repaying technical debt or improving the build and deployment pipeline. Team members use alignment maps to understand what business outcomes their day-to-day work is meant to improve. Business and IT sponsors use them to understand how ongoing work relates to the business outcomes they care about.

18 August 2015


Bimodal IT

Bimodal IT is the flawed notion that software systems should be divided into these two distinct categories for management and control.

21 June 2016



by Sriram Narayan

A business-capability centric team is one whose work is aligned long-term to a certain area of the business. The team lives as long as the said business-capability is relevant to the business. This is in contrast to project teams that only last as long as it takes to deliver project scope.

8 June 2016



When someone is looking at what makes up a top-class enterprise software developer, often the conversation may turn to knowledge of frameworks and languages, or perhaps the ability to understand complicated algorithms and data structures. For me, one of the most important traits in a programmer, or indeed in a development team, is something that I'll call Customer Affinity. This is the interest and closeness that the developers have in the business problem that the software is addressing, and in the people who live in that business world.

28 July 2006



A common question is whether large projects can be done with agile techniques. After all many agile approaches are designed for smaller projects and the heavyweight ideas that they resist are more needed on bigger projects.

10 May 2003



by Sriram Narayan

People who sponsor development of software usually aren’t very interested in development metrics such as velocity or frequency of deployment to production. They care more about business benefits that the software will deliver such as lower manual effort, better sales conversion, greater customer satisfaction, i.e business outcomes. Outcome-oriented teams are those that are mandated and equipped to deliver business outcomes, such teams have people with the capability to carry out all necessary activities to realize the outcome.. By contrast, ActivityOriented teams are neither equipped nor mandated to do so. They can only perform one of several activities required to realize an outcome.

1 June 2016



Imagine a hiring situation. There's two candidates both with a few years of experience. In the blue corner we have someone with good broad design skills in the style of design that you favor (in my case that would be things like DRY, judicious use of patterns, TDD, communicative code etc, but the actual list isn't important - just that it's what you favor). However she knows nothing of the particular platform technology that you're using. In the red corner we have someone who has little knowledge (or interest) in those issues, but knows your platform really well - edge cases in the language, what libraries are available, fingers move naturally over the tools. Assume all else about them is equal (which it never is except for thought experiments like this) and that your team doesn't have any gaping holes that this candidate might fill. Which one would you prefer?

17 January 2008



One of the most common ways to modularize an information-rich program is to separate it into three broad layers: presentation (UI), domain logic (aka business logic), and data access. So you often see web applications divided into a web layer that knows about handling http requests and rendering HTML, a business logic layer that contains validations and calculations, and a data access layer that sorts out how to manage persistant data in a database or remote services.

26 August 2015



Let's imagine a pretty world of SOA-happiness where the computing needs of an enterprise are split into many small applications that provide services to each other to allow effective collaboration. One fine morning a consumer service needs some information from a supplier service. The twist is that although the supplier service has the necessary data and processing logic to get this information, it doesn't yet expose that information through a service interface. The supplier has a potential service, but it isn't actually there yet.

14 November 2008



A common thing you find in agile projects is that the development team sits in a single open team room. It was advocated early on in Extreme Programming and called out as one of primary practices in the second edition. Agilists favor a open team room as it promotes lots of informal and deep communication between people on the team.

14 June 2010



One of the steady themes I've seen throughout my career is that of the nature and importance of software development. A few years ago a prospect told one of our salespeople that "software is like sewage pipes, I want it to work reliably and I don't want to know about the details". This is the kind of approach that Nicholas Carr talked about in IT Doesn't Matter. On a contrasting note we've done work for many businesses where IT has been a clearer strategic enabler to their business, allowing them to enter new markets or significantly increase their market share. So is IT a utility, like sewage pipes, or a strategic asset?

29 July 2010



by Sriram Narayan

Any significant software development effort requires several different activities to occur: analysis, user experience design, development, testing, etc. Activity-oriented teams organize around these activities, so that you have dedicated teams for user-experience design, development, testing etc. Activity-orientation promises many benefits, but software development is usually better done with OutcomeOriented teams.

1 June 2016



How do you define the boundary of an application?

11 September 2003



Bounded Context is a central pattern in Domain-Driven Design. It is the focus of DDD's strategic design section which is all about dealing with large models and teams. DDD deals with large models by dividing them into different Bounded Contexts and being explicit about their interrelationships.

15 January 2014



There are various schemes of Code Ownership that I've come across. I put them into three broad categories:

12 May 2006



by Rouan Wilsenach

Agile software development has broken down some of the silos between requirements analysis, testing and development. Deployment, operations and maintenance are other activities which have suffered a similar separation from the rest of the software development process. The DevOps movement is aimed at removing these silos and encouraging collaboration between development and operations.

9 July 2015



I use the term lay programmer to mean someone who is programming without thinking themselves as a programmer. Someone who spends a large part of her day working on spreadsheets is doing programming, often very intense programming. Usually however she won't call herself a programmer, nor think of spending much time learning how to program better.



A bunch of common misconceptions about pair-programming.

31 October 2006



One of the good things about software is that people seem to want it, and want it quickly. It's usual for organizations to ask teams to speed up production of software and from time to time the organization seeks to help in the way that really shows its commitment - by spending money to add more people to the team.

10 November 2011



This last week I had the pleasure of wandering around Florida speaking with Dan Sandlin and David LeBlanc at a series of Microsoft architecture councils. For those who don't know David LeBlanc wrote the very popular book Writing Secure Code with Michael Howard. At each of the session I would do a talk / q&a on P of EAA (which got a JavaWorld award this week) and David would follow on security.

14 June 2003



In my recent CodeOwnership post, I described the way in which I think about code ownership issues. Many of my software development friends are extreme programmers, and tend to favor collective code ownership. However these kind of practices aren't absolute and should always be tempered by local considerations. One of my colleagues sent me a note with the following story which I thought was a good indication of when you have to vary your practices, even if you are a strong fan of XP. (As he's talking about his team, he prefers to be anonymous.)

15 May 2006



Mobile applications have been a hot item in software development over the past couple of years. Like many software delivery companies, ThoughtWorks get a lot of requests from clients asking us to build a mobile application for them. However most of the time a company asks us (or anyone) to build a mobile application they are starting off on the wrong foot. I'd argue that for most situations, even though you want users to interact with a mobile device, you should never think of building a mobile application. Instead you need to think about building a single application that presents across multiple devices: mobile, desktop, tablet - or whatever device your users might use.

1 November 2012