Ideas on Enterprise Information Systems Development

This blog is devoted to ideas on Enterprise Information Systems (EIS) development. It focuses on Lean Thinking, Agile Methods, and Free/Open Source Software, as means of improving EIS development and evolution, under a more practical than academical view. You may find here a lot of "thinking aloud" material, sometimes without scientific treatment... don't worry, this is a blog!
Every post is marked with at least one of Product or Process labels, meaning that they are related to execution techniques (programming and testing) or management techniques (planning and monitoring), respectively.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why Agile for EIS? - Part I

Because of the "E" in EIS, these systems are usually associated to big enterprises. And for many people, a big enterprise means bureaucracy and lots of documents for doing everything. This is curious since Japaneses have been running big and efficient enterprises for the last 60 years (ok, Toyota is now going through quality problems but this cannot bury decades of success).

The question is in fact cultural: like Free/Open Source Software a decade ago, Agile Methods is still considered "nerd stuff" for many people from the EIS area. On the other hand, Model Driven Development (MDD) + project-management-methods-with-a-lot-of-bureaucracy appear to match Enterprise Engineering philosophy of modeling and documenting Enterprise aspects under different views and abstraction levels.

Even more curious is the fact that ERP implementation statistics show a lot of disasters, cost & time overruns and alike, but people still think that they need a lot of documents... Ok, someone can show various examples of successful bureaucratic ERP projects, but if you check their costs, the truth will appear.

Another human-related problem is that Agile put the focus - and consequently the decision power - on the producer (the programmer), not in the "modeler". And many people, although graduated in Computer Science, never liked programming... "I am an analyst, I am not a programmer." This is also funny, I remember, during my trainee days in Datamec (1993), when Essential Analysis and Waterfall life-cycles was the default way of developing, of a manager saying that "programmers and analysts are dead, long live designers... the software  development professional of the future is the one that will be able of modeling and programming, improving software quality and reducing lead-times and costs." He was a visionary, object oriented programming was still (another) "nerd stuff" and the Agile manifesto came some eight years latter.

As you can see, object orientation was "nerd stuff", free software was "nerd stuff", and now, Agile is "nerd stuff"...
So, are you going to wait a decade to accept Agile Methods in EIS Development???

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