I’m coming round to the realization that my hugely enjoyable first contract at Ventura last summer might have been something of an anomaly. That project was decidedly agile, test-driven, and used a bunch of modern technologies including Monorail, ExtJS, Subversion, NUnit and NHibernate. The requirements were well-defined, and the team was highly effective, with a pragmatic project management team who kept the development team free from bureaucratic processes, leaving us able to get on with delivering some cracking software in double-quick time.
So, it has been something of a surprise to move onto pastures new and discover that there are still organisations out there who follow the Waterfall model and highly prescriptive change control processes. It also seems that no amount of evangelism or proselytism from freelancers such as myself is likely to change the situation any time soon – it’s just the organisational culture. To be realistic, there comes a point in time at which I have to accept that fact, shut up, and knuckle down to achieving the project deliverables in the manner requested by the client. The customer is always right, as they say.
As I bide my time looking for some new clients who share my development methodology ideologies, I’ve been trying to retain some semblance of sanity by keeping on top of agile techniques and technologies, and by seeking kindred spirits with whom to discuss the same. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the existence of the Agile Yorkshire Club, who meet monthly in the back room of a pub in Leeds. So I pitched up last Wednesday, enjoyed the free beer, met some friendly and seemingly like-minded people, and listened to an interesting session by Richard Fennell of Black Marble as he talked about Alistair Cockburn’s Crystal Clear methodology, which seemed to me to be essentially “Pragmatic SCRUM”.
I’ve often heard people say that it’s a good idea to get involved with a local user group, or attend community events, and now I’m starting to appreciate why. In addition to the mind-broadening opportunities, the networking potential for freelancers is also an obvious benefit. If, like me, you’ve never before tried to get “out there” and meet other IT professionals, why not give it a shot? If a shy and reserved geek like me can do it, anyone can.
And if you organise or know of other, similar groups local to Leeds, I’d be interested in hearing about them.