Book Review: Balancing Agility and Discipline

This book was written in 2004 by Barry Boehm and Richard Turner, but the fact that it is already on its 6th reprint tells something about its value. This is a very pragmatic book that tries to put in perspective agile and plan-driven software development approaches. By the way, the funny thing is that the word “waterfall” is rarely mentioned in the book. This may be due to its negative connotation and also to the fact that Barry Boehm favors a spiral approach. The book has also adopted a clever structure, with a first “quick-read” part of 150 pages that provide the core of the material and then 100 pages of appendixes to treat some parts more specifically.

After a comparison of agile and plan-driven approaches, the book illustrates its vision of these two processes by presenting two project case studies. It also offers a risk-based approach for making methodology decisions that integrate agile and plan-driven practices. Even the book is not recent, it has the advantage of confronting agile and plan-driven approaches in a relatively objective way. Therefore, it is a very recommended reading for people that want to improve their software development process without wanting necessarily to be a “purist” of a particular approach. It is also a book where people that have already made their choice will be able to consider the “other” software development process with a different view and also gain a better insight on their own strengths and weaknesses.

Reference: “Balancing Agility and Discipline – A Guide for the Perplexed”, Barry Boehm, Richard Turner, Addison Wesley, 265 pages

Book Review: Balancing Agility and Discipline - A Guide for the Perplexed”, Barry Boehm, Richard Turner

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