Tony Edwards

Seven Years of Agile – Paul Massey

Paul Massey has been programming commercially since his teenage years, and is the leader at the top of the Bluefruit tree. Paul’s embedded software company,, Absolute Software Ltd. enjoyed a 50% growth year on year, thanks to Paul’s “Quality First” vision and innovative use of Agile methodologies. In 2014, the company underwent a complete rebrand, changing its trading name to Bluefruit Software, and celebrated its £1mil turnover milestone! You can catch up with Paul on Twitter.

This is a live blog. Please excuse any spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and nonsensical sentences.

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Paul founded Bluefruit seven years ago, and in the years since they’ve worked mainly in embedded software.

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Researched Agile and selected the Iconix flavor of Agile, which is a blend of upfront planning and Agile sweetness.

They won a contract for making software for water purifiers, with a client who were awesome at providing up front requirements.

By 2010, the team had been introduced to Allan Kelly who provided the gift of planning poker and a more Agile Agile. They were still doing fixed price scoping, so estimation was really important.

Jon Jagger helped with the technical practices of the Agile methodology. With embedded software, quality of code is extremely important, resulting in heavy TDD.

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In 2010 they made the full leap from Iconix Agile to Lean Agile, which required the adoption of User Stories. At this point the team had reached 11! Crank it up!

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Cyber-dojo was vital.

In 2011 they moved away from fixed price and fixed scope contracts to charging by point, which required the team to take responsibility for velocity. A project with a woolly scope validated the need for this type of contract.

In 2012, Kevlin Henney began to introduce BDD into the organisation. This allowed for automated acceptance testing.

Finding people with the right skills became increasingly hard. To do this they took on tester with an interest in learning to code and ‘Grew their own’. It is an 18 month process and has worked really well for the team.

The next big project required collaboration with a non Agile team. Bluefruit produced more, and the other team began working in an increasingly Agile way.

Agile helped the improvement of user experience, but in embedded software it’s not always in a user interface. This time….. a bike!

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Over the next few years the team began to grow….. and grow…. and grow. The team really began to gel all of the various Agile practices together.

Today they are recruiting 50% of employees through the grow your own method.

Agile has worked really well for the Bluefruit family. Allowing them to scale over the years, with the help of some amazing projects, team members and consultants. Byran Wills-Heath even chipped in at some point.

 

 

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Tony Edwards is a pasty powered developer with Plymouth Software, blogger and Web Apps Student at Plymouth University. When not developing, I can usually be found somewhere spectacular along the Cornish Coast. You can catch up with me on Twitter.