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Agile Management for Software Engineering: Applying the Theory of Constraints for Business Results
by David J. Anderson

Prentice Hall PTR
1 edition
September 2003
336 pages

Reviewed by Lasse Koskela, February 2004
  (8 of 10)

Agile Management for Software Engineering is targeted for managers and executives working in the software industry. Its focus is on introducing a technique called Throughput Accounting for measuring and tracking software projects. The author basically shows how traditional cost accounting based methods lead to suboptimal business results and how to correct that situation by applying principles of Lean Production and the Theory of Constraints.

The author covers different aspects of management in the software industry one by one--including project management, project planning, production metrics, staffing, resource planning, and product management--explaining how the concepts of Throughput Accounting fit into the picture.

The latter half of the book is dedicated to showing how the theory presented can be applied to a number of agile software processes, namely Feature Driven Development, Extreme Programming, and Scrum.

The first part of the book is a bit difficult to follow due to slightly repetitive text and never-ending acronyms. I wouldn't count this as a defect, however, as the subject of introducing financial measures inevitably requires a certain amount of equations in between beautiful words. Luckily, the latter part, where these measures are applied, flows much better. What I see missing in this book is more concrete examples beyond the arguably theoretical discussion about real-world application. I also noticed that I was constantly waiting for the author to connect the dots and bind the theories presented in a more or less waterfall context into modern, iterative and incremental processes.

All in all, I find Agile Management for Software Engineering to be a book with a solid message: how to better manage a software business. Considering the state of practice in the industry, I'd say this is a must buy for any manager or executive.

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