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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Informative Workspace

Our team is using Scrum as a way to formalize our development activities.
We had 2 options - Scrum and XP, in the beginning. We decided to use Scrum because it seemed more easily adoptable for us. XP introduces both engineering and management techniques and we thought it will be too hard for us to adopt it. However, we took few popular XP practices: TDD and Continues Integration.
As we had several months experience with Scrum, we decided to get more good stuff from the XP world.
We're using Axosoft OnTime 2007 in order to plan and track our development process.
However, we decided that this product was not quite useful for us during the sprint planning activities. We needed another tool - more flexible and quicker. So we decided to adopt another XP practice - Story cards.
We ordered a big cork board and placed it on the wall. We divided it as a table: one columns for each week during the sprint and one row for each developer.

In the beginning of the sprint, we selected the candidate tasks(stories) from our product backlog(Axosoft OnTime 2007) and wrote them down on a 75x100mm cards - one per card. The sprint planning meeting took few hours. We had a great experience during the planning meeting. It was easier this time to discuss the stories , to remove stories, to add new ones(even stories, which does not exists in our product backlog). It was easier this time to move them around between the developers and the weeks during the sprint.
After the planning meeting, the board is used as a day-to-day communication tool. We use it as a hot spot for our stand up meetings(scrums). It is easier to add new stories, remove them or assign them to another developer. If you want to add another story all you have to do is taking an empty card, writing down the story title and pin it on the board. When you finish it, all you have to do is marking it as finished by placing a big V sign on it.
We still hold our product and sprint backlogs in Axosoft Ontime. We keeping the board and Axosoft Ontime Database synced. However the usage of the electronic backlog
is shifted towards more strategic goals like holding the entire product backlog, project postmortems,high-level management reports generation. We still use the electronic database for defect tracking and customer incidents tracking.

One of the rules, which I respect the most is: DO NOT ALLOW INERTIA TO DRIVE YOU!
A team should never stop working on improvements in both management and engineering areas. So, what we do all the time in our team is thinking and trying new ideas in order to improve our work.

Some useful links from James Shore's blog and his new book

-Informative Workspace
The title of this post is inspired from his blog
The Planning Game

See the following links as well:
Jeremy D. Miller's blog
Agile Project Planning blog

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