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Techniques   »   Models   »   Tracer and Spike

Agile Tracer

The term Tracer is used by the military and gun enthusiasts for specially adapted ammunition called Tracer Bullets. Tracer Bullets are loaded inside a line of ammunition at regular intervals along with the live ammunition in the ammunition carrier. They have been adapted to carry a powder charge in the base of the bullet that burns during their flight once they are fired. Fired with the ammunition and set at preset intervals this gives a visual display of the direction and trajectory of the firing. This enables the aim of fire to be adjusted to reach and hit the target. As a useful metaphor to agile project management, Tracer is providing real time feedback to a user of the success of an approach and the immediate feedback necessary to correct it, so the intended target is maintained.

This concept is used in prototyping as part of product development and is performed periodically to ensure the proposed outcome is aiming towards its target objectives and target solution as well as to demonstrate to our project and to the business that we understand the proposed solution and have captured its depth and intensity.

A project is said to use or deploy tracer inside its projects and the terms tracer and tracer bullets seem to be used interchangeably on projects as be a matter of personal preference or project tradition.

The technique is deployed rather than the traditional waterfall approach of building a lengthy plan with agreed deliverables, building extensive detailed solutions and monitoring past events according to plan.

Tracer is deployed in preference as it is faster, has a greater accuracy and the team get an immediate response on the project targeting capability and accuracy.

Tracer is not to be confused with the term SPIKE. Tracer follows the whole length of the trajectory to the final target. A Tracer model goes from source to target seeking to ensure the whole length of the example is covered.

Agile Spike

The term Spike comes from XP and is used to represent a single test to evaluate and confirm (or challenge) a story or section of a solution. The distinction between it and Tracer is the extent of the appraisal your project is trying to make. With Tracer you are validating a whole approach or example whereas with a Spike this is seeking to validate a single identifiable element within a solution.


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Tracer and Spike


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