Agile Architect Pattern


Guide the team to reduce technical debt before it becomes a problem.


The nature of agile development is to deliver working software continuously. This means that the focus for all actors (Product Owner, Scrum Master and Team) is on the functionality delivered in each iteration. As a consequence, technical debt is considered okay and is likely to increase for each iteration completed. Often, this is allowed to go on until the debt has reached a level where the velocity of the team is starting to decline. After a while something has to be done, and the term Refactoring Sprint is introduced. A refactoring sprint is in this context an iteration totally devoted to paying off technical debt, thus no functionality is delivered for an entire iteration.

How it works

The Agile Architect Pattern prevents the scenario from the motivating example from happening by introducing an Agile Architect role. The Agile Architect can be seen both as a member of the team and as well as a stakeholder. This makes him/her able to both work with the team members, guiding them while trying to identify architectural issues as well as discussing requirements for future iterations with the technical resources from the client. While the team has a iteration-by-iteration time frame, the agile architect can see a few iterations ahead making sure the architectures evolves in a way that (hopefully) will not cause major problems ahead.

When to use it

The Agile Architect Pattern should be used in any project spanning over enough iterations likely to cause the technical debt large enough to slow the team down. It is important that the Agile Architect is comfortable both in the code domain acting as a guide for the team as well as on a higher level of abstraction to be able to interact with the client technical resources.

Upcoming Talk at Agila Sverige

I will be giving a lightning talk on the subject “The Architect role is needed, even in agile projects!” at the Agila Sverige conference which is arranged in Stockholm the 23rd and 24th of April this year. I will not reveal too much of the content here, but as the title implies, I will be promoting the need of an Agile Architect in every project. Agile or not…

Daily Scrum for Distributed Teams

Even if you are using Scrum or any other development model, agile or not, it is always good practice to have a short status meeting with your team every day. Usually the best time for such a meeting is in the beginning of the day as it gives the team the chance to resolve any issues the same day. Having the meeting in the afternoon implies that any issues probably have to wait until next morning, which is usually not a good thing.

So far, nothing new. The practice of a short stand-up synchronization meeting is pretty well established and non-disputed.

What if you have a team that is distributed not only in distance, but also over different time zones?

Which time zone should be used as basis for determining when to have the meeting? Usually the project it ends up being run by the project manager’s (*) watch. That means that the team in the other end probably will have the meeting in the afternoon. A pretty usual distributed team setup in Europe nowadays are something like this:

Europe: Project manager, architect, test manager
Offshore (China or India): Lead developer, developers, testers

That means that the largest part of the team, the team that actually are doing most of the work are having the daily scrum at a less optimal time of the day than the project management. I think that to really succeed with distributed agile development, you have to let the team decide how to work even if this implies awkwardly timed daily scrums for the project management. Of course, this applies to other aspects of the development process as well.

(*) …or Scrum Master if you prefer…

Some Thoughts in General

I have been kind of lazy writing this blog lately. After keeping it up pretty okay during summer, the pace has now slowed to a minimum. I think it can be partly explained by the fact that I have been using Twitter for some of the stuff I used to write here and that my new HTC Hero Android phone made tweeting more convenient than ever…

My intentions are to use this blog for subjects that cannot easily be said in 140 characters and twitter for the short, more daily stuff…

Well, so what has happened since last time. Since I have solely been using NetBeans the last couple of years for Java development, I decided to give Eclipse Gallileo a chance. It took me an hour of frustration to conclude that it still sucks for Maven based projects. Why it should be so hard is beyond my comprehension! In NetBeans, you just choose open project, selects the pom.xml file and everything is fine. Dependencies are resolved as they are defined in Maven, no stupid .classpath, .project and .settings rubbish created that makes Eclipse to totally hick-up if a dependency is changed.

Apart from my unsuccessful flirt with Eclipse, I have continued development of KanbanFX. It has been converted to a maven project and besided the information on Kenai, I have created a page for it here where you can try it out. Kanban is increasing in popularity, @henrikkniberg had 300 people on his Kanban vs Scrum session at JAOO this week.


I really like the simplicity in Kanban. It should be enough for most small projects, and especially AO teams. Even though all you really need as tool support is a white-board and a couple of post-it notes, larger organizations often require you to hook into existing tools for requirement management, issue tracking etc.

I have not been able to find any tool fulfilling this need, so I decided to create on myself. Thereby, KanbanFX was born!

KanbanFX is a JavaFX implementation of a Kanban board. Source code and a very limited demo version is available on Kenai:

Please join the project if you want to contribute. I am pretty sure that I will need help with at least the graphical elements when we get to that…


One of the new words buzzing around in the software industry these days is Kanban. Most people have heard of, or is using, some variant of Scrum or ScrumButt, but Kanban is still pretty new. Henrik Kniberg has written a great article where he compares Kanban and Scrum: Kanban vs Scrum – a practical guide.

In short, Kanban is the Less-is-more cousin of Scrum.
Kanban prescribes only three constraints:

  • Visualize the workflow
  • Limit WIP (Work In Progress)
  • Measure the lead time

The rest is up to you. Kanban does not exclude Scrum or vice versa. Read the article, inspect and adapt and find what is best for you and your organization.