The Art of Agile Development - Learning How To Manage Software Development Projects

"The Art of Agile Development" by James Shore and Shane Warden is a pretty old book, published back in October 2007. I got my hands on it at the recommendation of an old friend, who now works as a software developer. Even though I do not manage software development projects, he highly recommended it to me, as an inspiration for healthy approaches to project management in general. Therefore I bought it and started reading. Little did I know, that I would find lots of project management inspiration in its pages. To learn more, don't hesitate to read the whole review.

Structured Approach to Writing & Applying XP

The book is pretty well structured and has a good logical flow to it. It starts with the prerequisites of Getting Started with Extreme Programming where it explains how to adopt Agile in your organization and how to assess if it makes sense for you or not. Then it goes to Practicing Agile and spends valuable time on all the areas: thinking, collaborating, releasing, planning and developing.
The sections of most value to me were the ones about collaboration practices and planning. I really enjoyed the tips about how to conduct meetings and make sure they don't stand in the way of productivity or, in the section about planning, I enjoyed the focus the authors places on having a vision, making sure it is documented and promoted to all the members of the organization. I've seen many projects fail due to people not understanding or believing in the vision in the first place. It was refreshing to see this focus on it and get some good practical tips about it.

The Art of Agile Development

Last but not least, the book covers how to Master Agility, once you are running Agile Software Development projects. Even though it is not a long chapter, I found it very valuable and packed with lots of good examples and bits of wisdom. This chapters puts a lot of focus on continuous improvements. It encourages early identification of failure points, fast response and resolution: 'If this project is sure to fail, I want to know as soon as possible.'
I've seen many failed & expensive projects in the organizations I've worked with. It is good to see the authors recommending their readers to identify failure and be bold enough to embrace it and not hesitate to be transparent about it.

Improvement Area - Shortening The Length of Some Chapters

The area for improvement I can suggest for the book is the writing style. Some chapters can get a bit long and repetitive. You manage to understand the key ideas quickly but you still need to go through a few too many pages until the chapter ends. This made me tired at times and it took me longer than with other books to go through it all. It would be good to have a new edition which is slimmed down a bit, short and crystal clear across all chapters.

Verdict – Buy

Despite the fact that is a bit lengthy at times, if you want to learn more about agile development in general and how to run XP (Extreme Programming) projects, this book is a definite buy. If you are like me, a project manager working IT projects which are not about software development, you will still find value in reading this book. There are lots of nuggets of wisdom and examples of approaches which seem unusual from the standards of deploying already made software but which can be applied to this type of projects too. This book focuses a lot on collaboration, optimizing the delivery of software, creating value, communication between team members. I managed to find lots of good tips which I want to apply to my own non-software development projects. Therefore... do buy it if you have the 30+ dollars for it or at least borrow it from a friend. Even if you are not working on software development projects but you are working on IT projects.

Purchasing Options

If you want to purchase "The Art of Agile Development", you can find it on Amazon US (for North American readers) or Amazon UK (for European readers). If you purchase it using these links, we will also receive a small commission from your purchase. Therefore, thanks a lot for that.

Related content:

PM Crash Course for IT Professionals - A good book for IT projects?
The Project Manager - Mastering the Art of Delivery