getting real.. with clients? (can agile methodologies work in agencyland?

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everyone I know who loves agile-type methodologies has three things in common:

  • they work in a small team. Like, less than 10 people. Usually less than 5.
  • they don’t have to do monthly profit reports to management
  • they don’t have (external) clients.

That kind of environment makes it really easy to love a methodology where you don’t have to accurately define the scope of a project (what the client is going to ‘get’ at the end), and where iteration and collaboration is a way of life.

Consequently, over the last 12 months or so I find myself getting into lots of heated discussions with people over the value of functional specifications. The cool kids say that func. specs. are a waste of time, that they are creativity killers, and that there is no place for them in application design and development today.

I love the sound of that. Hell. I’d love to ditch functional specs if I thought it would give a good outcome. I don’t like writing them. Does anyone like writing them?!

But, can my clients cope without documentation? Without bits of paper that they rarely read but that allows them to feel comfortable throughout the development process – makes them feel that there is a process, there is a scope, and that we have it all under control. Tells them what they’re going to get for their money.

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links for 01 March 2006

what do IA’s talk about when they get together and drink?

Its not something I’ve asked myself on a regular basis, but found out first hand when I dropped into an informal IA Peers gathering in North Sydney last night.

My experience last night was that lots of people were talking about being semantic. Using tags.

For some reason, that surprised me. Perhaps its all the tag-cloud bagging I’ve been hearing lately. Perhaps because it feels as though tags have been around for so long now. (And they’ve been around for longer than that even, because tags are really just exposed metadata).
People were wondering how do we tags scale efficiently, and how might they work in enterprise applications? I was heartened to find that there were other IAs admitting to being dreadful tag-housekeepers on their own and Flickr accounts (symptomatic of the large scale problem of tagging and maintaining meaning & efficiency).

Just when we’d decided that we don’t really care about complex and formal taxonomy, suddenly the word ‘thesaurus’ just kept popping up.

The old and the new…

That’s why this is called Web 2.0, isn’t it. What we’re doing now is just another iteration based on all our knowledge and experience from years back.

I was particularly happy to hear more people saying that their roles are now more valued within projects than ever before. And also happy to hear that there is plenty of work about right now.

Not that I’m looking… but its nice to know :)

links for 28 February 2006