Don’t make Agile Projects a Death March

agile death marchBack in the halcyon days of software development – around two or more decades ago – programmers typically worked longer than 40-hour weeks; sometimes way longer. This is likely still true in some business sectors, especially the video game industry. Over time, however, software engineers began to demand a better balance between their professional and personal lives.

One of the reasons Agile become so popular is its focus on improving the efficiency and productivity of the application development process. Most of this gets accomplished without breaking the programmer’s back. Still, managers need to be reminded not to make Agile projects a death march.

A Recent Trend towards Poor Agile Project Management

In a January blog post for Leading Agile, veteran IT manager, Dave Nicolette talks about a recent trend for Agile project managers to overwork their team to get projects into production more quickly. This traditional “Death March” approach was criticized by the industry legend Ed Yourdon in a 2003 book of the same name. Nicolette notes this management style is now being championed by younger PMs responsible for Agile project delivery.

It seems a book from 1987, Crunch Mode: Building Effective Systems on a Tight Schedule, is the current flavor of the month in some IT manager circles. As Nicolette sarcastically comments: “Reviewers [on Amazon] think it’s great that there’s a way to break every model of sustainable delivery, planning, and estimation, and force people to deliver on an arbitrarily short timeline regardless of the human cost.”

The Risks of the Death March Project

Death March projects happen when the scope of work and timeline don’t match the amount of human resources assigned to the project. In this case, project managers and software leads forego a standard estimation process and simply dive right into the work. Traditionally, this leads to a greater number of errors and the gradual siphoning of employee morale.

Whether or not the project actually met the accelerated schedule, the damage to the development team is notable, as illustrated by Nicolette: “The days immediately following the project are not normal work days. Some of the survivors decide to change jobs or change careers. Others take care of their new health problems or their divorces. Those who escape with most of their sanity intact swear that they will never again participate in a Death March project. They will not be available the next time management asks for volunteers.”

Working Smarter remains more Important than Working Harder

Agile projects, especially those within a company following the DevOps framework, focus on a sustainable process. The overall well-being of all technical resources simply matters more than faster project delivery. “There’s a common mischaracterization of Agile as ‘going faster.’ If all you really want to do is ‘go faster,’ you’re looking for the Death March approach, not the Agile approach. Good luck with that,” comments Nicolette.

In a software development world where engineers desire a balanced life, simply working programmers to death is the worst approach. If you want the highest efficiency and top notch code out of your team, “Crunch Mode” needs to remain in the annals of history.

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2018 Trends in Agile and DevOps


2017 saw Agile remain a preeminent methodology for software development, while DevOps continued to become an industry standard for progressive IT organizations. The New Year is expected to bring more of the same, especially as DevOps matures and companies become more adept at its techniques. What follows is a look at some of the major trends for both frameworks in the upcoming year.

If you are interested in checking out our 2018 trends for software development, simply click on the following link.

Lifecycle Management Software combines Agile and DevOps Approaches

At their core, both Agile and DevOps helps organizations better manage the application lifecycle of their software. In 2018, expect the tools used for lifecycle management to leverage approaches from both frameworks. This isn’t surprising, since we previously discussed how companies already experienced with Agile find it easier to implement DevOps.

Considering pushback against inflexible DevOps tool chains was one of our software development trends for this year, improving the toolset by adding the flexibility typical of Agile makes perfect sense. Keep an eye on enhancements in ALM tools throughout 2018.

Getting Executive Buy-in for DevOps Initiatives becomes Easier

DevOps becoming an industry standard obviously means more companies are spending resources on its adoption. Since executives tend to pay close attention to what their competition is doing, they are likely to be more willing to approve the budget for DevOps projects in 2018.

A recent Gartner study notes that IT-related initiatives are now the second highest priority for executives for this year. This is the highest ranking for technology projects since Gartner began tracking that metric. In short, expect DevOps projects to be the rage all across the technology world over the next 12 months.

Traditional Business Metrics no longer applies to Agile

With Agile becoming more entrenched as a software development methodology, traditional project metrics aren’t as useful for tracking business value. Expect better reporting tools to become more popular for companies using Agile in 2018. Those who also follow DevOps can take advantage of metrics able to track the entire lifecycle from development to deployment to maintenance.

Companies able to combine Agile and DevOps with their strategic planning initiatives stay ahead of the game compared to those firms taking an individual silo-based approach.

Improved DevOps Training helping Companies’ Transformation

Even as DevOps becomes ingrained throughout the business world, good companies still struggle with its adoption. Organizations typically add experienced practitioners of the framework on a temporary basis to help to get up to speed. In 2018, improved DevOps training courses are expected to become more widely available.

It is also reasonable to predict DevOps certifications to become popular as companies look to hire IT pros with the right skills as part of their new initiatives. Considering the growing importance of Information Security throughout the tech world, specialized DevSecOps certifications are another easy bet to make for 2018.

So, keep an eye on these trends throughout the year to see if our predictions came true once 2019 is upon us. Hopefully, your projects over the next 12 months are successful!

Keep coming back to the Betica Blog for additional dispatches and analysis from the constantly changing software development world. Thanks for reading!

The Future of DevOps – in 2018 and Beyond


With the New Year nearly upon us, our thoughts turn towards the future. In a technology world where transformational changes seem to happen on a weekly basis, it pays to be able to look two, five, or even ten years down the road to better position your career or organization for success. This kind of professional foresight is essential.

When it comes to the software development process, DevOps lets companies deploy applications faster. In a competitive business world, it remains a key differentiator between companies. What does the future hold for this methodology that’s no longer the new kid on the block?

Here are a few DevOps predictions from to inspire your own thoughts towards the future of software development.

DevOps outshine Agile for Application Lifecycle Management

There’s no denying that Agile and DevOps are complimentary methodologies. In fact, we previously discussed how companies already experienced in Agile are better at adopting DevOps. As both mature, however, its greater standardization in tools and procedures is causing more organizations to fully embrace DevOps. expects this trend to continue, as businesses increasingly turn to DevOps for their application lifecycle management needs.

Continued Adoption of Containers and Microservices

Container architecture – as illustrated by tools like Docker – and microservices fit perfectly in any DevOps operation. Containers allow the easy porting of code between development, QA, and production environments. This velocity is vital for reaching the Holy Grail of most software engineering teams – continuous delivery.

Microservices take the SOA concept to an even more granular level. This allows a development organization to easily scale certain portions of an application constructed using this architecture. Expect both concepts to play an essential role with any organization adopting DevOps.

A Stronger Focus on Cultural Change

Ingrained cultures remain the biggest obstacle to companies attempting to implement DevOps. This is especially the case at larger enterprises. As more companies become successful at DevOps adoption, those still yet to make that jump will focus more on ensuring company cultures sufficiently adapt to make the process easier.

As such, feels culture is the essential prerequisite to DevOps success.

DevOps Organizations continue to win the Race

Companies with a mature DevOps practice are able to deploy software 200 times faster than those who don’t, according to More than anything, this cold, hard fact drives more organizations to either get with the plan or simply be left in the dust. DevOps cementing its status as an industry standard for software development is a logical expectation.

Data Analytics to rely on DevOps predicts that DevOps will offer significant benefits to companies performing data analysis on their Big Data stores. The methodology’s enhanced velocity along with its sharply-defined tool set helps these organizations focus on finding actionable information within their masses of data. Automation of these processes also helps.

As DevOps continues to grow into maturity and standardization, expect its implementation to become easier at organizations of all sizes. Soon, new software developers will wonder how we ever managed to accomplish anything before its existence!

Keep coming back to the Betica Blog for additional stories and insights from the wide world of software development. As always – thanks for reading. Enjoy your Holiday Season!