How the Finnish law on public tenders discourages agile projects – A podcast conversation with Antti Tarvainen

Download 090814_Agile.mp4 (UPLOADED: August 16, 2009)

Download 090814_Agile.mp3 (UPLOADED: August 18)

I just had an interesting telephone conversation with Antti Tarvainen (blog), a board member at Agile Finland, who is hoping to influence law makers as the Finnish parliament will be reviewing the law on public tenders this autumn.

Antti is collecting data from businesses that are conducting agile software development projects through public tenders. My company, Cluetail Ltd., is currently running such an agile project to build a proof of concept of a Web-based content life-cycle management, analysis and recommendation tool as an ASP service.

His day job is at Leonidas Oy, a software house from Tampere who incidentally were one of ten companies that responded to our public tender invitation back in May.

Antti and I decided beforehand to record our conversation and make it available online as an audio file or podcast show. I haven't done this before (except with technical help, internally, in Nokia), so… fingers crossed.

Our conversation stretches 48:42 minutes.

We talked about Cluetail's experience in inviting software companies
through a public tender, and also about why the public tender
procedure, in Antti's view, may not be working quite as well as it
could.

His impression is that, due to the bureaucracy associated with the
law on public tenders – in particular the legal requirement to
implement objective selection criteria -, project owners are
unnecessarily discouraged to apply agile methods and often prefer a
traditional waterfall approach to software development.

The assumption being that there is less legal risk in volved, i.e.
it is easier to meet the legal requirement of objective selection since
all requirements for the software project can be fixed at the outset.
Agile development methods, on the other hand, are designed for
flexibility and changes in the scope and objectives during the project.


Technicalities

I recorded the call on my Nokia N97. That's the easiest way I figured out to do this – the only downside being that there's a beep on the line every so many seconds [LATER: actually, that beep is not heard in the resulting audio file]. I believe the sound quality is quite acceptable.

I emailed the .mp4 file from the phone to myself in order to listen back, edit if necessary, and convert it to .mp3 using Audacity on a PC.

[HELP: The .mp4 file really doesn't sound right in Audacity. I need to find a different way to convert it to .mp3. Or do I need to?]

[LATER: Okay, I don't have time to fix this right now. Note-to-self, action points:

  • Download/upgrade Audacity. (Done, August 14, 2009)
  • Re-listen to the .mp4 file. (Done, August 14)
  • Put the .mp4 file online. (Done, August 16)
  • Download and install SUPER © Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer. (Done, August 17)
  • Convert it to .mp3, using SUPER. (Done, August 17 – first at a bit rate of 128 k, but that file became to big for TypePad to accept. Then at bit rate of 64 k, it was okay.)
  • Put the .mp3 file online. (Done, August 18)
  • Embed Flash player in this blog post.
  • Figure out a better way.

CONCLUSIONS:

  • .mp4 works.
  • I don't know if it is advisable to offer .mp3 as well, but I did just in case.
  • SUPER works for .mp4 to .mp3 conversion, at a bit rate of 64 k.
  • File upload to TypePad is slow; I'm testing to use Posterous instead.]
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