Stephen Balkum

Agile Enthusiast, Leader, and Developer

First entry into the blogosphere

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I’m finally making the leap.  However, it took a lot of prodding from multiple individuals to get to this point.  This is my first blog post.

As with many others before me, my first post will be more or less an introduction.  I am co-founder and principal consultant for Next Level Technology with John Teague. We are a custom software development and Agile coaching firm in Austin, Texas.  Although our business is new, we will succeed by taking advantage of short iterations, and the frequent communication that accompanies them, to make sure our clients get software that works just as they need.

I’ve been leading teams for over a decade.  I’ve written device drivers and 3D games, shrink wrap software and enterprise software, desktop software and web applications.  I’ve been a developer, technical lead, director, and vice president.  I won’t pretend to be a master of any slice of software development, but I’ve definitely been around the block.  This diversity has afforded me the opportunity to work with many different teams.  Some teams were quite strong; others, well, not so strong.

Most recently, I was the VP of Technology at Callaway Golf Interactive for over 6 years where I lead the teams that developed the ecommerce site for Callaway Golf, specifically www.callawaygolfpreowned.com and shop.callawaygolf.com.  During this time, my day-to-day focus shifted from mostly coding to mostly management.

I believe it was back in 2005, while at CGI, that Eric Hexter introduced me to Agile, something he was just discovering, and a new way of thinking.  Although I instantly saw the benefits from a project management and quality standpoint, it has been a continuous journey ever since.  It is absolutely a new way of approaching a project and working it to success.  Since then, I have become a certified ScrumMaster, lead multiple project cycles, and I even put myself into a team as a coder just for the experience.

My goal for this blog is pass along those useful tidbits of information, or start a topic of conversation.  I have a couple of pet projects going on that will afford me plenty of personal coding experience to share.  In addition, there will be technical leadership thoughts to pass along as I work with other teams as part of NLT.

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