Agile Singapore 2014 - You Can't be Great without Technical Excellence

Technical excellence is more than two week sprints, a burn-down chart and a daily stand-up meeting. The basic rules of Agile or Scrum are not an end in themselves, but rather a staring point based upon principles and practices that allow and encourage teams to adopt, adapt, and refine their craft. Unfortunately, it may seem to the technical people that agile is just another micro-management approach.

Why do so few employ the engineering practices that are designed to support the iterative cycles of Agile? The founders of Scrum expected you to pull in engineering practices once the iterative cycle reveled the problems of product defects, rigid code, wasted time debugging, long stabilization efforts and the ever growing burden of manual test.

In this talk we’ll look at why the technical practices of test-driven development, refactoring, continuous design, and clean code that can help you and your organization be great.


  1. The intention of Scrum’s creators
  2. The reality of the current state of Agile/Scrum
  3. Specific reasons to improve engineering practices
  4. The importance of automation, and consequences of not automating
  5. How TDD prevents defects and wasted time (TDD vs Debug Later Programing)
  6. Unit Test Imperative
  7. Test automation vs. the untested code gap
  8. The importance of code quality, and consequences of not keeping code clean
  9. The three critical skills of Refactoring
  10. Excuses for not improving engineering practices
  11. Technical excellence to do list for Managers, Scrum Masters and Developers

This talk has been evolving over the last few years. Usually delivered as a conference keynote. James has presented this at Scrum Gatherings in London and Atlanta, Agile 2014, DevConFu, South Florida Agile Association as well as internally at several large corporations. He can deliver it and other topics here at your company.

Published: November 12, 2014