Is RUP Agile, Waterfall, or a nice little revenue stream?

IBM’s Rational Unified Process is an “an iterative software development process framework” according to a number of sources and books. On the surface, it seems to be a perfect balance between getting Agile processes on the ground and removing the Waterfall, but giving senior managers the overview and paperwork that they expect from a ‘real’ project methodology.

And then I read something like this:

At first glance the RUP seems to give us standardized, well thought out ways to handle situations that come up over and over in software projects.

But every time I hear about RUP nowadays, it’s in association with a project failure, or at least waste that people would like to eliminate.

Michael James – Why RUP Failed

Part of me looks at RUP and wonders if the issue is that it is trying to put the Waterfall controls back in – the upfront documents and making change more onerous. However, this puts it squarely at odds with the Agile manifesto which values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

So is RUP an attempt to dress Waterfall up and make it Agile in name only?

Later in the same post Mike J states that “In Agile circles, RUP advocates constantly take on the role of apologists. “RUP is actually incremental and iterative! You just haven’t seen RUP done right! Scrum is just a highly tailored version of RUP!

This got me thinking.

The first step in RUP is to tailor the process, but there is little to no guidance about how or what should be done.

This led to 2 more thoughts:

1) If you want RUP tailored correctly, you’ll need a highly qualified IBM RUP specialist to guide you for several thousand $ per day for several weeks. Nice work if you can get it and I bet IBM can.


2) You can get an RUP process pared to the bone that is clearly documented and reviewed and is yours for a couple books and a 2 day course; it’s called Scrum.

I guess you pay your money and spin the wheel, and IBM want you to spin that wheel again, and again, and again…

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