Why is it that, when it comes to creating software, almost everyone wants developers that are “ninjas”? Ninjas are secretive and highly unpredictable. The strike quickly and with impact…but then they disappear. It’s helpful to be able to call on a ninja when unexpected threats arise, but when assembling a team to tackle ongoing challenges I strongly prefer the battlefield discipline of the samurai.
Pivotal Tracker was first forged in 2006 as an internal tool by the legendary Pivotal Labs. They were seeking ever more effective ways to support continued success between their clients and the 150+ developers on their team. Their clients responded so positively to the tool, the interpersonal dynamics it encourages, and the results they were getting that Pivotal Labs decided to make Pivotal Tracker available to the public.
To achieve greatness in any given task, it is best to use tools that were built for that task. The corollary is that if you try to apply that tool to different contexts, you may come to the conclusion that other tools are “better.” If you want to use a sword for slicing deli meats, for example, you may find it functional…yet awkward. There are now countless cloud-based tools that aspire to support any type of project someone might want to do and therefore make compromises to serve the broadest possible set of general purposes; Pivotal Tracker is not one of those. Pivotal Tracker has been sharpened on project after project by the Pivotal Labs team for Agile Software Development.
The term “Agile” – like its cousin “Lean” – is bandied about quite freely in business these days. Far too often, I hear it used merely as a synonym for staying flexible. It is so much more than that. If Pivotal Tracker is a mighty sword, then Agile is bushido – a formal code of conduct and honor by which true warriors abide. Amongst its many variants – including the Pivotal Way – Agile incorporates practices like user story & acceptance test construction, point estimation & velocity, paired programming, and actively testing from the very beginning of development. Like the tenets of the samurai code, it is very easy to utter these phrases but it takes practice and sustained focus to achieve the benefits.
The most important benefit? You will succeed in battle with much greater reliability and predictability when you use well-crafted tools with dutiful discipline. Your stealthy ninjas that yearn for the thrill of dire crisis can spend their time doing urgent password resets.
This post does not constitute an endorsement by SAP of any discussed products or services. Click here to read other posts by Ian McCullough.
Ian McCullough is an independent project management and operations consultant for consumer-facing businesses. He has successfully deployed cloud-based solutions (including SAP Business ByDesign) at the companies he works with, so he is an active practitioner and builder – not just some random theorist. For more information, you can visit his LinkedIn profile. SAP strives to provide world-leading service to all of its customers regardless of size, so rest assured that the opinions presented in this post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of SAP or its agents.
Pivotal Tracker logo and imagery used with permission. Samurai © 2007 Olivia Blackburn; Used under the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license. Katana © 2008 Adam Selwood; Used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.