Since the early 1990s, Scrum and agile development have been at the core of a growing number of software projects. A focus on incremental iterative events, roles, and blackboards covered in different colored post-its have increasingly been associated with software development, while its Bible, the agile manifesto, has become a kind of guarantee, a way of proving that the right procedures, focused on efficiency, have been followed. There are a great many projects out there that have agile development and Scrum to thank for their success.
Scrum has been seen in the software development world as a modern way of understanding how to manage the tasks involved in complex coordination. It provided a teaching methodology to something that traditionally had functioned either chaotically, or that was overly sequential and rigid. But the world of software has developed significantly in recent times and there is no reason to think that Scrum and agile methodologies, even if some would like to turn them into religions, are going to last forever.
After reading «Is Scrum still relevant?» on Slashdot, I decided to take a look at Open Development Method, a software development methodology that tries to incorporate all the experience of the ever more ubiquitous open source projects. The “open is better than closed” approach, which came under scrutiny a few years ago, has proved its worth through thousands of software development projects throughout the world and industry, and is being embraced by companies, including those who initially attacked it.
How are the usual practices of open source projects incorporated into a software development methodology? From what can be seen so far, the idea seems to be to try to put the spotlight on the quality of software, accompanied by the appropriate documentation and testing processes, group discussions, and values such as transparency, asynchronicity, and democracy. These are all present in one way or another in the infinite number of successful open source projects that have generated huge amounts of value in all kinds of areas and activities, but that are not particularly systematized or subject to specific methodological procedures. If it shows signs of functioning, this Open Development Method could become not just a simple idea that evolves as the next step after the Scrum era, but into something much more important that will become highly visible.
A lot of people are going to find it hard to say goodbye to Scrum. The whole agile thing may not have been around for that long, but it has certainly established itself, and produced generally positive results, and driven by people who see it not just as a way of working, but akin to a religion. Anybody who has grown used to a particular tool knows it is hard to accept its deficiencies, and will usually prefer to make small adjustments to it rather than radical changes. That said, the community created around Scrum and agile development is relatively cohesive, as would be expected from something that started out as the collective work of a community, which probably means they probably won’t be giving up on it without a fight.
Is this the end of an era, a logical evolution, replacing something with another product that is better adapted to the changes that software has undergone in recent times? In any event, I think we are going to be hearing a lot more about Open Development Method from now on…
(En español, aquí)