Take The Um Out Of Scrum

Scrum is big in software and it’s slowly creeping into hardware development. To me this is good news because Scrum would be a transformative for hardware teams. In an industry that relies heavily on the big bang, iteratively coming to potentially shippable checkpoints, as a team would do with Scrum, would be a welcome change. It would give users and customers early access to product (or some version of a product depending on the technology involved), there’d be increased opportunities for feedback and the narrowed sprint-to-sprint focus on feature subsets would propel a significant improvement in quality.

Yes, Scrum would be great for hardware teams… unless, of course, we strip out the practices and objectives that make it effective and bend the rest around practices we already use without actually changing much. That would be less great. Continue reading

Step 1: Make Someone’s Life Easier

How do I get started with agile hardware development? That’s a question I get a lot. Do you ask for management approval or try something under the radar? Is a pilot appropriate or is it best to just go for it with the whole team? Is it better to start with this team or that team? And the biggest hurdle…

How do you get people to buy into the idea? Continue reading

The 90% Done Myth

Since posting The Great Agile Hardware Myth last week, I tried to think of some obvious myth that exists in the mainstream; some claim that we’ve all made that, without fail, turns out to be absolutely and entirely false. Took a while but I think I found it. We could have called it The RTL Done Myth, but I chose to call it the The 90% Done Myth.

Myth Reality
We’re 90% done. If everything goes well, all that’s left is testing and debugging this last 10%. The gant chart that says we’re 90% done is lying to us. We know it’s lying to us because it’s lied to us before, many times. We’d rather not use this gant chart but because tracking development progress is so important and we haven’t figured out a better way to do so, we feel like we have no other option than to keep trying to believe it.

Continue reading

Pretending to Build ASICs with Agile Development

Here’s another post spurred by Bill and our discussion from An Idealist’s View of Agile Hardware Development. This is a good one. If there were an award for best AgileSoC comment, Bill probably would have won it with this…

“Given the cost to tape out a large ASIC these days, we know that these incomplete designs are never going to be shipped. We are going to wait until most or all of the features are in before we ship. We don’t get multiple tapeouts to add incremental features like we can in software.

Now this may sound like I’m arguing against agile HW design but I’m really not. I’d contend that even if we were to just pretend that we could ship a design, it would force us to tie off a lot of loose ends earlier and plan the order we add features much more carefully. In fact, if we were to just change our view to add features in order from most important to least important, we would likely end up with a shippable design much sooner.

I think I may be arguing both sides of the issue here but I truly a believe that if we were to take a more holistic view of chip development and align development, verification and PD to operate in a more incremental fashion, we might just ship the final product sooner even if we don’t end up in that agile nirvana of being about to tape out on any particular Friday afternoon.” Continue reading

We’re Already Kind of Agile… Sort Of…

Last week, in response to An Idealist’s View of Agile Hardware Development, a fellow named Bill made some very thoughtful comments in a follow-up discussion he and I had. A couple of those comments have been good enough to spur on posts of their own. (I’ve requested Bill carry on with the discussion. I don’t mind having more to talk about!)

The comment we’ll take on here comes from a broader conversation about how agility stretches from design and verification through to physical design. In there, Bill makes a comment that I’ve heard more than once, both as it relates to PD and within the larger context of hardware development…

“…I think most projects do work in a semi-agile way without using those words.” Continue reading

An Idealist’s View of Agile Hardware Development

Something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now is talk about the waterfall v. agile comparison that I’ve been doing in agile hardware talks for a few years now. Finally got around to recording and posting the video.

Here it is… waterfall v. agile development and why we need to start with the idealist’s view of agile hardware development instead of settling for something practical.

[youtube_sc url=3YA2fx2J7fE width=640 height=480]


Why Agile Will Never Work in Hardware

It’s been a long while since we posted Mike Thompson’s guest blog, A Heretic Speaks (Why Hardware Doesn’t Fit the Agile Model), where he outlines his argument for why agile is a good idea that just can’t work for hardware. Since then, I’ve tried to think of the perfect response, the counter argument that would have everyone nodding their heads in agreement and screaming “Agile wins!”. Alas, I regret to inform you that Mike and the rest of the agile heretics out there have won. There is no perfect response because agile will never work in hardware. So instead of confronting Mike’s argument, I’m here to pile on. I hope I can help others who, like me, were deluded into thinking agile could work in hardware. Continue reading

Why You Should Go to an Agile Software Conference

It’s that time of year again and people are scrambling to put together conference proposals, with fingers crossed, for the annual Agile Conference in August. This year it’s Agile2013 in Nashville and I, like the others, am scrambling.

Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 8.58.39 PMI have 2 proposals in this year. Just like the last couple years, the open and interactive submission system has been great for tuning my proposals. Unlike the last couple years, there seems there’s nowhere for a hardware fella to hide. No Embedded Agile stage. No Emerging Applications of Agile stage. This year we’ve been thrown in with the big dogs and it’s getting a tad harder to appear relavent. Continue reading