Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Joel On MSF
Recently Joel has expressed his opinions about the efficacy of Microsoft Solution Framework and started a long thread of debate on his site. [This is slightly old news but I’m just back from an emotional zone-out]. Amongst the many replies, I particularly liked this one.
Joel makes a good basic point. If you believe the spin that accompanied MSF v3.0 then you’d believe that it captures the Microsoft development process and as Joel points out, Microsoft has a unique culture and unique position in the World. It hires really great people, empowers them, makes everyone individually accountable for their own actions, arms them with lots of resources and then allows the results to emerge with a very hands off management style. It’s the combination of the culture, the leadership and the above average quality of the people that make the recipe work. In Joel’s opinion - as a former Microsoft employee who now runs his own firm - that recipe isn’t easily scaled across the industry. And he’d be right! Though there is a lot of value that companies can derived from trying to emulate the Microsoft culture of leadership, empowerment, trust and accountability, without a similar culture Microsoft’s processes are unlikely to succeed elsewhere.
What Joel didn’t realize when he wrote his piece is that MSF v4.0 is being written by me and Randy Miller - co-author of A Practical Guide to Extreme Programming and Advanced Use Case Modeling. Randy used to work at Togethersoft for Peter Coad and between us, we have a bit of a clue about software process and what it takes to succeed in a less egalitarian environment than the Redmond campus. MSF v4.0 is actually a tooling framework enabled in the Visual Studio Team System product. It can be configured to deliver any process. In fact, we’ve already seen a version of Scrum built on the early CTP release of VSTS. Out of the box, VSTS will ship with two processes - MSF Agile - and it’s bigger brother to be named later that will be CMMI level 3 compliant. A stretch-to-fit agile process which will meet most of the process areas in CMMI Level 2 and 3. [Note: CMMI v1.1 not SW-CMM which the SEI has recently deprecated!!!]
I’ll be talking a lot more about MSF v4.0 and Microsoft’s entry into the agile methodology space throughout this year.