REVIEW - Organizational Patterns of Agile Software Development


Organizational Patterns of Agile Software Development


James O. Coplien, Neil Harrison



Prentice Hall (2005)




Francis Glassborow


February 2005



This book was a run-away seller at the recent ACCU Conference. Blackwells sold every single copy available in the UK. I know that because the publishers shipped 40 copies from the US for sale at the conference on the strict condition that they might not be sold anywhere else. Apparently it is not currently for sale in the UK. Neither the lead author nor anyone else I know has been able to discover why this is the case.

Now to the book itself. As you would expect from the lead author it is well written and challenges your thinking. It covers almost 100 organizational patterns culled from a study of more than 100 software development organizations.

The idea for Patterns was imported from the works of Alexander who was concerned with architecture (of buildings). The pattern concept was first applied to the ideas of software architecture. While I think that the idea has sometimes been abused or at least greatly over used, I am sure that it has done much to help software development.

In this book, we move on from the architecture of software to the 'architecture' of organisations that develop software. In my opinion, there is nothing very special about such organisations. Good organization is good organization regardless of the product. The reason I make that comment is that I find this to be not only an excellent study of software development organisation, but also an excellent study of organization.

Very little other than the examples in this book is specific to software. It is sad that the title will result in the book being stuck on the specialist shelves of bookstores. I would love to see this book rewritten and re-titled so that it will be read far more widely.

In the meantime, if you are involved in managing software development, buy this book, read it carefully and consider how you can apply the ideas to your own work.

In addition, if the publishers are still not distributing it in your country ask them what they are playing at because you deserve access and the authors deserve their royalties.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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