Harmonising Agility and Architectural Strategy

It’s hard figuring out how to get a balance between agile development and strategic architectural goals, but its not impossible. It’s important to understand that you need both if you are to enjoy sustainable success over long periods. Too much emphasis on the here and now can result in brittle engineering. Whereas too much emphasis on pure engineering can often mean that not enough business value get’s delivered.

My advice is simple. Agile projects deliver functionality based on the requirements fed into the project as User Stories. The key to achieving harmony is to ensure you create user stories that capture both the functional and non-functional requirements of your project. Some agile authors refer to this as ‘building an architectural runway’ – the point being that its very bad to ‘run out of runway’ during take-off.

I realise that. In truth non-functional requirements are often better suited to the acceptance criteria of a story rather than being a story in their own right. However, when your running a programme of projects, committing to architectural evolution in this way will help you to ensure that you never get boxed into a corner. Your software should remain strong enough to support what you currently have, but will have enough headroom left over to accommodate any foreseeable requirements.

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