What works and what doesn't work in software development? For the first 10 years or so of my career, we followed a strict waterfall development model. Then in 2008 we started switching to an agile development model. In 2011 we added DevOps principles and practices. Our product team has also become increasingly global. This blog is about our successes and failures, and what we've learned along the way.

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions. The comments may not represent my opinions, and certainly do not represent IBM in any way.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What is AgileFall?

AgileFall is a tongue-in-cheek term for a software development model where you are trying to be agile, but you keep falling into waterfall development habits. For example, a team practicing AgileFall may say:
  • We have sprints, but they are four or six weeks long.
  • We try to do most of the development at the beginning of the sprint and most of the testing at the end of the sprint.
  • We have a product backlog with priorities, but we start working on a release with a long list of features already committed to the business.
  • We know our product release dates several months in advance. There's a long list of target dates that must be met before the release date.
  • We test new features as they are developed in each sprint, but we also have a lonnnng system / globalization / translation / integration test cycle at the end of the release.
  • We sometimes spend too much time up front designing the software before we even start prototyping it.
  • We do our initial sizings in person-weeks, because we're not comfortable with story points and velocities yet.
  • When management asks us for a rough sizing, we might spend days working on that sizing effort, because we feel like we need to really understand the tasks involved before we "commit" to a sizing.
  • People get upset (or defensive) when stories are not completed in the sprint they were planned for.
  • We demo our software in development to customers, but only after we're happy with it. By the time we get around to having a demo, it might be too late to change much.

Is your team practicing AgileFall? In what ways?


  1. The last company I worked for fit this description PERFECTLY! I am not just talking a few of the bullet points, they literally met EVERY SINGLE BULLET POINT perfectly. We had to have worked at the same company... :) Great post!

  2. That's great! I knew we weren't the only ones!

  3. The current project which I am working fit into "AgileFall" perfectly. This is more of people mindset issue and so what is the best way/ practice to overcome such issues in an organization. Any Suggestions???


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