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Home » About Conference » Agile Prague Conference 2011 » Conference proceedings 2011 » The Economics of Agile Software Development

J. B. Rainsberger: The Economics of Agile Software Development

by Anna Kulakowska

This brief introduction to the theory of constraint was an interesting perspective to look at agile methodology. The theory of constraints can be summarized with the following statement: ‘The chain is no stronger than its weakest link’.

When we think about our goal, there is always at least one constraint that is limiting our throughput. This constrain is often referred to as the bottleneck. The most common limiting factors are equipment, people, and policies. In every particular situation, we need to assess and find out:
- Where the bottlenecks are?
- Where work slows down?
- Which problems we need to fix first?

After we know where the bottlenecks are, we can come up with pretty good solutions. The most common ways to overcome the constraints are:

  • Limiting the amount of work that goes to the bottleneck
  • Diverting the work away from the bottleneck
  • Increasing the limitation of bottleneck (buying systems, hiring people)

Agile methodology can be also used to reduce the cost of failure in a number of ways:

  • Faster feedback
  • Increasing flow of information
  • Decreasing the risk of one person failing
  • Reducing the complication


The graphics were created by Richard Fridrich.