Continuous Digital
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Continuous Digital

An agile alternative to projects

About the Book

In a digital world business must develop software, the business must grow and the software must grow. The project model doesn't reflect this world because projects end. In the digital world both software and business are continual. So management needs a new model.

This books sets out the Continuous model of software development based on continuous work streams. Continuous Digital is a logical continuation of agile software development which enables continuous delivery.


The #NoProjects movement has successfully set out the problems with project thinking over the last three years but has rightly been criticised for not elaborating on what should replace the project model. This volume sets out to address that problem. This book focused on describing an alternative to projects and for completeness contains a critique of the project model.

This volume is divided four parts:

Part 1: An alternative

1. Omni present software

2. Software as an Asset

3. Higher purpose

4. Team-centric development

5. Work to be done

6. Value

7. Summarizing the alternative model

Part 2: Interlude

8. Diseconomies of scale

9. Diseconomies and risk

10. Living with diseconomies

11. Schedules

12. Time-value profiles and elastic deadlines

13. I need it yesterday!

14. Theory X,Theory Y and strategy

15. Planning

16. Piecemeal growth

Part 3: Teams

17. Devolved decision-making

18. Team strategy

19. Stable teams

20. Team life cycle

21. Team life cycle – another example

Part 4: Money

22. Real options and venture capital

23. Continuous governance

24 Budgetting

25. Assets and accounting

26. Money trouble

The individual parts of Continuous Digital are (or will soon be) available as individual publications.

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About the Author

Allan Kelly
Allan Kelly

Allan Kelly calls himself an Agile Guide. He helps software professionals enjoy more fulfilling and satisfying work by improving the way work is organised and requests are made. Happier people and better ways of working make for more effective companies, greater value and competitive advantage.

His wide experience of the challenges faced in software development underpins his advice, coaching, training and writing. He is the author of seven books including "Xanpan - team centric Agile Software Development", "Business Patterns for Software Developers" and "Continuous Digital". He has pioneered techniques such as Value Poker, Time-Value Profiles and Retrospective Dialogue Sheets. His blog is at

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Reader Testimonials

Evan Leybourn
Evan Leybourn


What Allan has created here is nothing short of groundbreaking. This book is an insightful vision of the the future of work that is emerging within organisations around the world. Be it #noprojects or Continuous Digital, the movement towards funding and working along continuous value streams rather than finite projects is reaping benefits.

Steve Smith
Steve Smith

A deep dive into #NoProjects

Over the past few years, Allan has done a huge amount to bring #NoProjects into mainstream IT conversations. This book is a deep dive into #NoProjects, and I highly recommend it.

Sergey Timanin
Sergey Timanin

Plenty of food for thought

Careful! Not only this book offers you plenty of food for thought, it is practical enough to be your handbook for transforming a business into a digital one. Without resorting to boring management speak Allan explains how to take an organisation to the next level by putting customer first, focussing on value and building effective feedback loops to emphasise learning.

Gwendal Tanguy,
Gwendal Tanguy,

Director of Product Development, Swissquote Bank

Allan Kelly is not only able to identify the recurrent issue that other people don't want to see. He is also able to structure and use the exact word on concepts that will make you more confident in your daily management process. In this cookbook, many solutions are proposed for your organization and it's up to you to do the right thing in your context. I warmly recommend you to read this book today as golden age of pure project agility is about to end.

Steve Parks, CEO, Convivio
Steve Parks, CEO, Convivio

Continuous Digital is the plain sense - but no Tardis

The great thing about Continuous Digital is the plain sense that it all makes, so you realise this is exactly the way you want to work in the future. The bad thing about the book is that it doesn’t include a Tardis to go back and start working in this way when you set out on your last ‘project’. So bury that pain and just look forward, with this book to navigate by.

Kristian Kristensen
Kristian Kristensen

VP of Engineering, Ecommerce at The New York Times

"This book is terrific! It accurately diagnoses a problem with our model of software delivery and charts a new course. Well researched and well argued it shows the future."

Table of Contents

    • Free Book
    • What others are saying…
    • Project Myopia
    • Preface
      • Digital
      • Agile and continuous delivery
      • Products, not projects
      • Once upon a time…
      • And now for something completely different…
  • I An alternative
    • 1. Omnipresent software
    • 2. Software as an Asset (SaaA)
      • Assets decay
      • Fighting decay
      • Software decay
      • Software lives
      • Software is an asset
    • 3. Higher purpose
      • Not money
      • Obliquity
      • Organizations and teams
      • Scale
      • Mutable
      • Individuals
      • Project completeness
      • Closure
      • Finally
    • 4. Team-centric development
      • Conway’s Law
      • Amoeba teams
      • Minimally viable teams
      • Value-seeking teams
      • Deadlines over end dates
      • Continuity
      • Stable not static
    • 5. Work to be done
      • Teams and products
      • Who does it?
      • Fail fast, fail cheap, learn, salvage
      • Tolerate failure
      • Constraints breed innovation
    • 6. Value
      • What is value?
      • Who benefits?
      • Profit-maximizing organizations
      • Default to money
      • Numbers
      • Non-financial benefits
      • Non-profit organizations
      • A workaround
      • Thought experiment
      • Conclusion
    • 7. Summarizing the alternative model
      • Emergent: strategy, products, design
      • Key points
  • II Interlude
    • 8. Diseconomies of scale
      • Milk is cheaper in large cartons
      • Evidence of diseconomies
      • Think diseconomies, think small
    • 9. Diseconomies and risk
      • A project example
      • Conclusion
    • 10. Living with diseconomies
      • And projects…
      • Making small decisions
      • Optimize for small
      • Kelly’s Laws
      • What if?
    • 11. Schedules
      • Worked example
      • Adding effort estimation
      • Analysis costs too
      • Summary
    • 12. Time-value profiles and elastic deadlines
      • Worked example
      • Options
      • Time-value profile
      • Time-value profile for Halloween
      • The answer is…
      • Parallel build
      • Pre-work investigation
      • Costs
      • Accuracy of time-value profiles
      • Assumptions and sensitivity
      • Finally
    • 13. I need it yesterday!
    • 14. Theory X, Theory Y and strategy
      • Business strategy
      • Emergent design
      • Patterns
      • Finally
    • 15. Planning
      • Doing is learning too
      • Problems
      • Planning is useful
      • Back in the USSR
      • Moore’s Law
      • Finally
    • 16. Piecemeal growth
      • Small advances
      • Democracy
      • Economics
      • Fake it
      • Test-driven
      • Refactoring
      • Finally
  • III Teams
    • 17. Devolved decision-making
      • Authority, not empowerment
      • Organizational structure
      • Failure tolerance
      • Fast-moving environment
      • Finally
    • 18. Team strategy
      • Strategic sizing
      • Amoeba teams
      • Flow the work to the team
      • Fail fast, fail cheap, learn and salvage
      • Team skills
      • Managers
      • Finally
    • 19. Stable teams
      • Stable, not static
      • Optimization
      • Camaraderie
      • Area of speciality
      • Area of responsibility
      • Finally
    • 20. Team lifecycle
      • Example scenario
      • New initiatives and MVTs
      • The board
      • More growth
      • Steady state
      • More growth
      • Split
      • Continued growth
      • Reverse process
      • Multiple products
      • Unplanned work and interruptions
    • 21. Team lifecycle – another example
      • Budgeting
      • What are you building?
      • Set-based engineering
      • Scope
      • Test-driven regulation
      • The minimally viable team
      • Tracer bullets
      • Expanding the technical side
      • Non-IT work
      • Growth
      • Peak and beyond
      • A project in hindsight
      • Pre-project?
      • To end or not to end
      • Finally
  • IV Money
    • 22. Real options and venture capital
      • Venture capital funding model
      • Real options
      • Cones of uncertainty
      • Finally
    • 23. Continuous governance
      • What is governance?
      • Why do governance?
      • Flip control
      • What governance is not
      • Project-centric governance
      • Framework
      • Fixed governance iterations
      • Portfolio
      • Scorecard
      • Face to face
      • The future
      • Finally
    • 24. Budgeting
      • Budgeting for a ‘project’
      • Budgeting for something new
      • Managing risk
      • Beyond budgeting
      • Finally
    • 25. Assets and accounting
      • Capital or expense?
      • CapEx, OpEx and projects
      • Test first is CapEx
      • Refactoring – CapEx or OpEx?
      • Defect-free
      • Fundamental problem
      • Finally
    • 26. Money trouble
      • The trouble with profit
      • Time lag
      • It isn’t just software
      • Strategy
      • The attribution problem
      • The value of null
      • Finally
    • About the author
      • Also by Allan Kelly
    • Major influences
    • Acknowledgements
  • Notes

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