When you’re inside, safe in the warmth of your home watching snow fall on your driveway outside, all snowflakes look the same. But, when you look at a snowflake up close, particularly when you do so under a microscope, you quickly discover that all snowflakes are in fact unique.
It’s the same with IT projects. When you look at them from afar, particularly
from a very high level, they all look the same.
However, when you look at them up close, you quickly discover that they too
are unique. The agile scaling factors, which are really just general scaling factors applicable to all types of IT
project regardless of paradigm, help to make this very clear. For example, when it comes to team size some teams
are small, less than ten people perhaps, some are medium sized, and some are very
large (with hundreds of people). When it
comes to distribution some teams are co-located in the same room, some teams
have team members in different cubicles in the same building, some have people
working in different buildings, and some even have people working in different
countries. Many agile teams work in
regulatory environments, in fact the July 2009 DDJ State of the IT Union survey reports that one third of agile teams must
comply to industry regulations, although clearly many agile teams do not have
this as a concern. That’s only three
scaling factors. The point is that a
small, co-located team working in a non-regulatory environment will work much
differently than a fifty-person team working in three different locations,
which in turn works differently than a two hundred person team in the same
building working in a regulatory situation.
Different teams, facing different scaling issues will work in different
ways – unique snowflakes from a process point of view.
The Snowflake Analogy