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Overcoming the Myths of IBM Rational Unified Process (RUP) and Agile Development

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Scott Ambler

Practice Leader of Agile Development

IBM Rational

Hi, my name is Scott Ambler. I'm the practice leader of Agile Development at IBM Rational, I'm a senior contributing editor at Dr. Dobbs Journal, and author of several books including Agile Modeling, Agile Database techniques and refactoring databases.

Some people will tell you that RUP and Agile are like oil and water, but when you think about it a bit and choose to be smart about the way that you instantiate RUP, then you quickly see it can be as Agile as you want to be.

Long before I joined IBM I wrote in Agile Modeling and since then in other writings how to take an Agile approach to RUP. Many others, including [Craig Larman], Gary Evans, Per Kroll, [Bruce McKaizak] and [Ether Yakison] to name a few, have also written similarly.

So how do you take Agile approach with RUP? First, adopt short iterations no more than four weeks in length. Second, focus on the delivery of working software. In my opinion, an iteration should be seen as a failure if all it produces is documentation.

Third, promote quality oriented techniques such as test first development, coding conventions and refactoring. Fourth, remove as many barriers to communication and collaboration as you possibly can by making it as easy as possible for people to work together.

Fifth, make sure that everyone involved, including business stakeholders, data professionals and quality assurance professionals work in an evolutionary if not Agile manner. Finally, streamline RUP as much as possible. Less is definitely more.

Why would you choose RUP over any of the other Agile processes? RUP is more robust than other methods which only focus on development or only on project development or only on modeling. These are important things, but you also need to initiate a project and then release it into production, don't you?

RUP addresses important scalability issues. Although many Agile-ists don't like to admit it, the 2007 Agile adoption survey Dr. Dobbs Journal shows that the majority of Agile teams are doing such things as initial requirements modeling, initial architectural modeling, proving the architecture early and even writing documentation.

These are all practices straight out of RUP which enable you to scale Agile to larger more complex efforts. How Agile you are when it comes to RUP is completely up to you. My advice is to be as Agile as your situation warrants while still taking the full picture into account.

To find out more about Agile development, RUP and how IBM can help you in these efforts, visit us at or our Rational Method Composer Component Product Page. Thank you very much.


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